History of Olive Branch Baptist Church

Olive Branch Baptist Church of Wake Forest, North Carolina, had its early beginning sometimes before 1879 as a part of the Wake Forest Baptist Church on what is now the campus of the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

How long the church remained on the Wake Forest College Campus is not known for certain.  The inscription on the cornerstone states that the church was organized in 1865 and remained on the campus until 1879.

The present site of Olive Branch was conveyed by a deed dated October 15, 1879.  The names of the trustees recorded in the deed are J.T. Thomas, J.F. Phillips, S.S. Powell, Henry Dunston, and Joe Gill.

It is worthy to note that when Olive Branch was established it received both finance and guidance from the Wake Forest Baptist Church.  The tensions generated by the Civil War conflict had not overcome the “Spirit of Brotherhood.”

The early history dates back when both whites and blacks worshipped in the same church edifice.  The white minister preached to the whites in the morning and to the blacks in the afternoon.  Later, the blacks had their black ministers.  This seems to suggest that Reverend George Harris was the black minister who preached to the blacks on the campus and led them to the present site on 326 East Juniper Avenue.  Reverend Harris was the pastor from 1879 until his death in 1893.  He was buried in the church cemetery.  He is the grandfather of the late Sister Annie Bell Bullock.

The present structure of the church is the third building on this site.  According to the inscription on the cornerstone, the structure was rebuilt in 1955.  As before, when the church was rebuilt, Wake Forest Baptist Church gave the members considerable assistance.  Throughout the years improvements have been on the exterior as well as the interior of the church.

Since its early beginning, Olive Branch has held a unique position in the total welfare of the community.  Because of its sanctuary many groups gathered at Olive Branch.  The members of the church were very helpful to all the community churches that began later.  They also gave their blessings to all the community improvements.

This church is noted for long pastorates.  The ministers who have served the church were Reverend George Harris, Reverend Tom Edders, Reverend Augustus “Gus” Shephard, Reverend James Mayes, Reverend P.T. Hall, Reverend M.C. Ransom, Reverend H.Y. Cheek and Reverend S. L. Suitt.

Reverend Samuel L. Suitt retired in 1985 after forty-one years of pastoral service.  Reverend Andrew J. Taylor, Reverend  Dr. Willie A. Swann and presently Reverend Dr. R. Logan Carson.

Associates ministers mention were Reverend Anthony Harris, Reverend Carolyn Harris, Reverend Isaac Harris, Jr. , Reverend Byron Stallings and presently Reverend Tilda Caudle.

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