mount olivet | Celebration of history

Mount Olivet United Church of Christ, 410 W. South Range Road, Beaver Township, will celebrate its 200th anniversary this month. “God is Still Speaking” is the theme.

Celebration details: Friday, 7 to 9 p.m., informal gathering with cookies and punch; Oct. 9, 10 a.m., “Olive Pits” practice; noon to 1:30 p.m.; 1800s basket lunch in the grove; 2 to 4, tent revival hosted by the Revs. Bert Ambrose of Valley UCC, Valley City, Ohio, and Stephen Gifford of Trinity UCC in Canton, “sons of the congregation” who became ministers; 4 to 5, children’s play and adult fellowship; 5 to 6:30, dinner; and 6:30, hayrides, pumpkin carving, time capsule and other activities; and Oct. 10, 8 to 8:45 a.m., “Olive Pits” morning worship service; 9 to 10, continental breakfast; 9:15 to 10:15, Sunday school; 10:30 a.m., worship with communion; and noon to 1:30 p.m., lunch.


1800s: The first settlers arrived in Beaver Township before 1800, and the Germans from Pennsylvania came later. The early settlers had no minister but assembled every Sunday. The early church was a union congregation, Lutheran and Reformed. First trustees were elected in 1806, and this was been adopted as the date of the organization of the congregation. The congregation bought land Oct. 13, 1810, and the site is now Union Cemetery. A log church was built on this location in 1810. It was named Good Hope Church, which became the current Lutheran Church at North Lima. The first pastor was the Rev. J. P. Mahaenschmidt in 1811. In 1831, the Rev. Henry Sonnedecker became pastor and oversaw the development of Sunday School. In 1861, a part of the congregation separated; the Rev Reinhart is credited with the name Mount Olivet, which he said meant “Where our prayers ascend Heavenward.” The congregation decided to build a church west of the old one.

1900s: The Rev. L. J. Rohrbaugh became pastor Nov. 1, 1904, and his ministry lasted more than 40 years. He promoted knowledge of the Bible.

1910s: A Sunday School orchestra was begun. The west wing of the church was built and electric lights installed.

1920s: Another addition was begun in 1928 for $18,000. The congregation raised $2,500 to build a Mount Olivet Chapel in Hunan, China.

1930s: Evangelical Synod of North America and Reformed Church in the United States merged; the church became Mount Olivet Evangelical and Reformed Church. A combined service of Mount Olivet and the Lutheran churches celebrated the 125th anniversary.

1940s: The Voice, a weekly publication, was first printed. A youth fellowship was organized.

1950s: In June 1957, the “Voice” expanded to include a monthly Voice Magnified. The church became a member of Youngstown Council of Churches. During this time, discussion was underway for the merger of the Evangelical and Reformed Church with the Congregational Christian Church. The Rev. Larry J. Dunnewold of the newly formed denomination, United Church of Christ, was pastor and encouraged new programs of service to the church and community. The choir was expanded. In 1958, the congregation built a new parsonage on land adjacent to the church.

1960s: Sesquicentennial observed. An educational wing was erected. The Rev. W. O. Keeler, who became minister in 1965 introduced “Chester the Church Mouse,” a contributor to the Voice Magnified. A new Christmas tradition was begun when members made the first Christmons, various symbols of Christ, to hang on the Christmas tree. Women’s Guild was organized and began a prayer group and volunteered at Protestant Family Service. North Lima Senior Citizens first met at Mount Olivet UCC. In 1968, the youths organized a singing group, “The Olive Pits.”

1970s: The parking lot was paved, and North Lima Preschool opened in 1974.The Bell Choir began in 1978. The first Shrove Tuesday pancake supper was in 1979, and continues. An outdoor worship service in 1976 was at the church grove, and outdoor services continue. The South Range Council for Church and Community ( 3C’s) was established in 1979.

1980s: The Allen organ was purchased in 1984, replacing the Hammond organ installed in 1947. The installation of the Allen organ led to the design and crafting of a white reredos in the Greek Revival style. In 1984, as a prelude to the sanctuary renovation, a handicap-accessible ramp was built on the east side of the building. The bell tower was refurbished. The 175th anniversary was marked with a barbecue and square dance, and the Women’s Guild published its third cookbook. A new Steinway piano was purchased for the sanctuary, which was remodeled. A pavilion was constructed and is the site of outdoor worship services and other activities. The first worship service in the newly remodeled sanctuary was Easter Sunday, 1987. The Friendly Followers Class began to deliver Meals on Wheels to residents in the Youngstown area.

1990s: The Women’s Guild volunteered at various times at the Rescue Mission. Blankets were donated to Church World Service. Chapel lighting was updated. A painting and redecorating program was begun in 1994. An elevator was added.

2000s: New windows were installed in the Sunday School wing and improvements made to the parsonage. The church joined the Family Promise program. The church sent several disaster- relief teams to areas in need including after Hurricane Katrina.

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