By Lance Hickey
Mars Hill – As we conclude another holiday season filled with Christmas trees, Christmas carols and lots of sweets, local churches continue to shine in the area with hope for many in the community.
Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church in Mars Hill is not the exception. Located just south of South Main Street, Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church has impacted the Mars Hill area since July of 1917. The congregation continues to bring life and hope to the Mars Hill community and serves as the focus of our Where We Worship series for this week’s edition.
Rev. William Hamilton serves as pastor of the congregation, which boasts more than 100 years of service to the community. Hamilton will celebrate two years of pastoring the Mars Hill congregation in February. A graduate of both Asheville High School and North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in Greensboro, North Carolina, Hamilton, who majored in music performance, also leads the music program at Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church. He served as associate pastor at Saint Paul Missionary Baptist Church in Asheville before taking the role as lead pastor of Mount Olive.
I attended a service on December 15. Service began at 11 as parishioners filled the pews of the historic sanctuary, which was completed in 1917, according to church leadership.
As I arrived a few minutes early for service, Reverend Hamilton led the 10 a.m. Sunday school before service began as he welcomed the congregation and all guests. He then stepped forward to the piano and sang “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms,” a gospel melody talking about trusting in God.
Hamilton followed by singing, “Mary, Did You Know?” It became self-evident why he majored in music performance as Hamilton’s melodic, euphonious voice rang through the speakers. The music proved to be top-notch as Hamilton led the congregation in a time of praise and worship.
The time came for the Sunday message. The congregation stood for the reading of the Bible as a sign of respect and reverence. Hamilton followed by delivering the sermon of the week. He highlighted the idea that God is a way-maker and wants to do good things in our lives. As he completed the meat of his sermon, Hamilton gave an altar call for anyone who would like prayer. The service was dismissed.
Service at Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church proved to be an engaging and compelling experience. The church is a lively congregation with gospel music unique to the Mars Hill community. The congregation was welcoming and adamant about impacting others around the community.
The church’s desire is to continue to revitalize the 102-year-old church, while also continuing to bring hope to the Mars Hill community as well as Madison County, according to church leadership. Look for Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church to continue its century-long mission of bringing hope to Madison County.