History of Mount Olive A.M.E. Church
For over 100 years, Mt. Olive AME Church, Clearwater, has been a physical and spiritual icon to the community. In 1894, Mt. Olive African Methodist Episcopal Church began in a refurbished wooden house near 304 Railroad Avenue (now 600 Jones Street). Known only as the ” A.M.E. Church ,” originally it was recognized as Hope Henry A.M.E. Church and served as one of only two black churches in the city of Clearwater . The wooden house in which the church started was renovated to facilitate the installation of benches to serve as pews. The vacant lot north of the church was occupied by the original church.
In 1896, the first formal sanctuary was erected under the leadership of Rev. J.S. Braswell and rebuilt during the tenure of Rev. William McClary in 1906. A stone building whose foundation serves as the base for today’s Mt. Olive Church, was built on our present site between 1913 – 1914, with the Rev. J.W. Dukes, D.D., Pastor; Rev. G.W. Hawkins, D.D., Presiding Elder; and the Rt. Rev John Hurst, D.D., Presiding Bishop.
Following a severe storm which blew down the walls of the church in 1926, the present edifice was erected and the name was changed to Mt. Olive A.M.E. Church . The Educational Building was erected between the sanctuary and the first parsonage in 1948, under the pastorate of the Late Rev. A.J. Richardson, Sr. The Trustees were Bros. S.W. Curtis, Sr., Mayo Weaver, Milton P. Rooks, Sr., John Simpkins, Leroy G. Hooks, Sr., Charles Bryant, Peter J. Rowe Sr., and Sister Alberta Shaw. Sis Helen McDowell served as the church clerk.
In addition to pastors previously named, the following later served as pastors of Mt. Olive A.M.E. Church : Rev. R.L. Murriel, Rev. L.F. Moss, Rev. Barkley, Rev. Tyson, Rev. Newton, Rev. F.D. Hall, Rev. Morris, Rev. O’Neal, Rev. John E. Carey, Rev. Byrd, Rev. Conner, Rev. E.A. Simmons, Rev. F.L. Gillian, Rev. J. Dempsey, Rev. G.L. Gaines, Rev. Charles C. Brooks, Rev. Jamerson, Rev. H. McNeal Harris, Rev. E. L. Pinkney, Rev. A.J. Richardson, Sr., Rev. C.S.H. Hunter, Jr., Rev. J.D. Stonom, Rev. Nathaniel McCray and Rev. Ernest Blocker.
In October 1979, the Bishop sent Rev. J.B. Keel to Mt. Olive A.M.E. Church . Under his leadership, the church purchased various parcels of land around the church. In 1986, the Jackson property north of our church on Hart Street was purchased for additional parking. In 1991, the late Rose Clybourn Harris’ estate (3 bedroom house) became property of Mt. Olive A.M.E. Church , which now serves as our church parsonage. During 1994, the new multipurpose building was built and dedicated by Bishop Frank C. Cummings. Several months later, (within the same year) additional property was purchased west of the sanctuary which is being utilized by our church office staff. And again, in 1995, Mt. Olive A.M.E. Church entered a contract with Clearwater Neighborhood Housing Services, Inc. to purchase another parcel of land, northwest of the business office.
For 20 years, the dynamic Keel Team, consisting of Pastor Jimmie B. Keel, spouse, Dorothy Evelyn and James C. Rembert, Pastor’s Steward, led the Mt. Olive Church family to heights inconceivable in Kingdom building.
On February 3, 2000, Mt. Olive A.M.E. Church was among 1,298 sites to be listed in Florida as having received the National Historic Designation. Our church had been active for 106 years in the year of the celebration. As we continued this faithful journey, in 2004, after 25 years of dedicated service, Pastor J.B. Keel announced his retirement from Mt. Olive A.M.E. Church.
Pastor Ronald Williams continued the great progress of the church under the banner of “The Best Is Yet To Come” until his transfer as a response to the District needs, in August 2009.On November 20, 2005, Bishop McKinley Young sent Rev. Ronald E. Williams, Sr. to continue the great work of the church. Pastor Williams proposed a six-fold plan of action for Conference Year 2005, with special focus on further spiritual growth within the Church and strengthening the financial status of the church. During the first year of his administration, he implemented a holistic approach to worship and administration.
Fortunately, Mt. Olive was again blessed – and this time with the presence of the Reverend LaTanya Floyd and his gracious wife. His warmth, wit and humor brought in many young folks who responded to the spiritual calling of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
At the seat of the 2011 West Coast Annual Conference Rev. James Vincent Williams was appointed the Senior Pastor of Mt. Olive African Methodist Episcopal Church in Clearwater, Florida.
Mt. Olive’s Vision for Today and Tomorrow: “One Team, One Heart, Unified to Impact Lives”
Under the progressive leadership of Rev. James V. Williams and his loving family. We continuously look forward to a spiritually prosperous future, Showers of Blessings, and strengthening of our church family and community.