of John Arnold, as told to him by Pete Waters and found in church records
The first elders of this congregation were: J. O. Harrell, D. W. Clayton, and H. M. Meeks. They were appointed in 1909. Others who have served as elders include Claude Jernigan; M. O. "Marvin" Harrell, a descendant of J. O. Harrell; R. A. Knight; Lex Roberts; Lumas McCullers; Paul Clemons; Gleene Harrell, another descendant of J. O. Harrell; and John D. Arnold.
In the early 1800's the land in this area of Suwannee County was a forest of stately yellow pine and giant oak trees. U.S. 90 was just a dirt road along side the railroad tracks.To this beautiful land our forefathers came bringing their families and all their worldly possessions in mule and ox drawn wagons. In their hearts they carried a desire to serve and worship our God. In this land they were to make their homes and rear their children. Early in the 1870's the Harrells, Harpers, Warners, Overstreets, Oharas, Meeks, and others came to Suwannee County. The Harrells and Harpers moved here from Decatur County, Georgia.
These people didn't have a building to worship in at first, so they met in each other's homes just as the first century church did. Occasionally they had a traveling minister to preach. One such minister was a Brother Goodlow who held a gospel meeting in 1878. I suppose he was a circuit riding minister. Brother A.J. Cumble organized the Mt. Olive church of Christ, after the New Testament pattern the 3rd Sunday of March 1887. The first regular preacher was R. J. Hinely (1898-1890).A log meeting house was built by J. O. Harrell and three others on three acres of land deeded by Mr. Harrell. This building was used for worship until about 1909 when a new frame building was built. The nearest water for baptisms was a pond in Brother J. O. Harrell's field, and the pond was used for that purpose until the later 1940's. The building we now meet in was built in the late '50's and the annex was built in 1988. The preacher's house was completed in 1984.
In the book "A History of Churches of Christ in Florida with other related Stories 1869-1949" (2003), the writer says, "The church made rapid progress after its establishment. It was a strong congregation in the 1890's, but after 1900 the church didn't grow very much. Many members had grown careless. On August 1, 1915, the church records show a commitment to renewal: 'The Church has grown cold and none are interested in the work. Those having their name put on the book is a confession that they will be more strict to their duties and live nearer to their God than they have in the past.'" The Mt. Olive congregation has experienced some difficulties but is committed to continue to "Preach the Word" and 'be more strict to their duties and live nearer to their God than they have in the past'". J. O. Harrell wrote in the Suwanee Democrat, "The church at Mt. Olive has never had in it a musical instrument and has never given a supper or entertainment for the benefit of the church."