Mount Olive

Cumberland Presbyterian Church

Dyer, Gibson County, Tennessee

West Tennessee Presbytery - Synod of Great Rivers

1875 - present

No Session Records in Archives


Pictures taken after the April 2, 2006 tornado by Bob Rutledge.

Mount Olive Cumberland Presbyterian Church
Mount Olive Road
Dyer, Tennessee

"A petition from Mt. Olive a new congregation organised in Gibson Co. praying to be received under the care of this presbytery was read and the prayer granted and Bro. W. E. Orr their representative took his seat as a member of this Presbytery."
[Source: Minutes of Hopewell Presbytery of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, March 24, 1877, page 335]

Men of Mt. Olive Cumberland Presbyterian Church

Photograph courtesy of Bob Rutledge

Front Row (left to right): Sibyl Rutledge, Elmer Porter, James Thomspon, Grady Thompson, Roy Becton (seated), Hubert Rickman, Wilson Orr, James Becton, William Becton

Row 2 (left to right): Joe Frank Brown, Ulyess Young, Preach Flowers, Harry Fisher, James Collins, Gerald Woods

Row 3 (left to right): Edwin Becton, Bobby Becton, Ed Poynor, Benny Watt, Raymond James, Esbert McVay


[information published in 1961]

On March 13, 1875, Elihue Flowers and wife deeded the land where Mount Olive Church is now located to the Trustees of said church. The land was never to be transferred except for church purposes. Other tracts of land have been added from time to time. Mount Olive Church was organized October 14, 1875, after a glorious revival which is believed to have been held in a brush arbor. The following people met and organized what is still known as Mount Olive Cumberland Presbyterian Church: W. N. Canada, H. A. Canada, E. Flowers, Susan E. Flowers, A. B. Flowers, J. T. Gordon, John Thompson, W. E. Orr, M. A. Orr, B. T. Daughtery, Catherine Daughtery, Lou Thomas, J. D. Mitchell, A. J. Mitchell, A. N. Gordon, N. J. Mitchell, A. J. Gordon, M. E. Flowers, M. F. Flowers, R. W. Mitchell, R. W. Miller, O. A. Canada, R. L. Crenshaw, S. J. Grier, C. A. Grier, N. C. Mathis, W. J. R. Becton, Margaret S. Becton, M. A. Mitchell, M. A. Bone, N. C. Strather, Hanna Thomas, Betty Ann Daughtery, and N. C. Shelton. Rev. Thomas Crawford was the minister in charge.

Elders ordained were John Thompson, Elihue Flowers, A. B. Flowers, W. N. Canada. Deacons ordained were John Gordon, John Mitchell, and later, Rite Mitchell, Bryant Daughtery and Robert Miller were added to the official board.

Rev. Crawford was elected pastor of this newly formed church as its first pastor. In November 1880, Brother Joe McLeskey was elected to serve as pastor of the church. In this year a committee was appointed to secure a sexton. One was secured at a salary of $1.00 per month.

In 1887 the first bell was purchased or presented to the church. It was a small bell and some time later it was exchanged for the present one. The first church building was a one-room structure about thirty-six by fifty feet and faced south with two outside doors, and windows on each side.

In time it was necessary to enlarge this building, and a twelve foot extension was built to the north end of the building in order to give room for a choir, altar, amen corner, etc. Some of the present members of the church remember this building. This first structure was not torn down until 1917, in which year an entirely new structure was built. It is reported that the revival that year began in the school house but ended in the new church building. Members of the church at that time worked together to secure the things they needed in order to complete the church building. Teams were hitched to wagons and men drove over the countryside asking for hens, quilts, eggs, etc. People were asked to raise chickens for the church, and were also asked to give Sunday eggs as extra money for the purposes of the church. Brother Joe Stockton was pastor of the church at the time of the building of the new structure in 1917. Rev. G. C. McIllwain had been pastor of the church for a number of years previous to this one and had been instrumental in aiding the building program. In July, 1920, Rev. D. W. Fooks preached the dedication sermon for the church. At this time the church was free of debt.

In 1938 the Sunday School had grown and the people saw the need of more Sunday School rooms. So the cupola was torn off, porches made into Sunday School rooms, and other improvements were made. The interior was redecorated at this time. The balcony was divided into two Sunday school rooms in the fall of 1943. The church building was painted in the summer of 1947. The work cost the church $326.75. In 1949 a basement was dug, but work there was not completed at this time. Some Sunday School rooms in the basement, and a kitchen were completed to the extent that they could be used. Mount Olive Church increased the number of preaching Sundays per month to two in August 1950. The gas heating system was installed in December 1951. The church pews were repaired and varnished in January or February of 1954. Book racks were added to the church pews in March 1954. The pulpit chairs were repaired and reupholstered in April or May of 1954. A new piano was purchased for the church in 1954.

On September 11, 1955, two new elders and four new deacons were ordained and added to the official board. Rev. Earl Roberts, pastor of the Bells Chapel Cumberland Presbyterian Church, preached the ordination sermon as the pastor, Rev. A. D. Rudolph, was not ordained. The elders ordained were William Becton, and Esbert McVay. Deacons ordained were Joe Frank Brown, Robert L. Becton, Harold Echols, and John Foster. In September of 1956 a new roof was placed on the church building. Members of the church did most of the work on this project. The floors which were placed in the church in 1917 now serve as the sub-floors for the new hardwood floors. In February 1957 the basement was finished, and cabinets were built in the kitchen.

The second Sunday in March 1958 was observed as Tillie Gordon Day in the church. On this date, he was the only one to have served the church as an elder for a period of over fifty years.

In October, 1958, Harold Echols and John Foster were ordained as elders, and Will Frank Orr, Sybil Rutledge, and J. M. Thompson were ordained as deacons. In January, 1959, Elder James S. Thompson was elected clerk of the session to replace Elder R. C. Becton, who had resigned this office. Mr. Becton had served in this position for a period of twenty-seven years. This was the longest period of time in the history of the church for anyone to have served in this position. The Session also elected Deacon Robert L. Becton as church treasurer to replace Elder William Becton, who had resigned. In 1959 concrete porches and steps were constructed, and metal posts and hand rails were installed.

Records indicate that the pastorate has changed thirty times and Session clerk seven times. The number of elders at the present time is twelve, and the number of deacons is nine. The Clerk of the Session is Mr. James Thompson, and the present pastor is Rev. William L. Cottrell, Jr. Mount Olive has seventy-two active members. The church now registers approximately forty inactive members. There is an active Missionary Auxiliary, and an active Cumberland Youth Fellowship group. Many improvements have been made at the church in recent years, the most recent being the installation of new carpets in the aisles and front section of the church.
[Source: Culp, Frederick M., and Mrs. Robert E. Ross. Gibson County Past and Present: The First General History of One of West Tennessee's Pivotal Counties. Trenton, Tennessee: Gibson County Historical Society, 1961, pages 526-529]

List of Pastors

 Thomas Crawford

October 14, 1875

Joseph V. McLeskey

November 1880

 J. A. McIlwain

April 1898

A. S. Johnson

November 1899

A. B. Pritchard

January 1901

Joseph V. McLeskey

November 1902

 Phillip Franklin Johnson

January 1904

 R. L. Keathley

September 1904

B. F. Chastain

August 1907

Grover Cleveland McIlwain

March 1909

J. T. Stockton

October 1916

A. D. Salisbury

October 1917

Russell Tatum

October 1920

W. M. Zaricor

June 1921

 Grover Cleveland McIlwain

October 1921

G. F. Lovitt

October 1922

A. D. Salisbury

October 1924

G. R. Dunagan

October 1927

G. P. McIlwain

September 1929

Blake Forester Warren

 September 1939

B. F. Drake

March 1940

Blake Forester Warren 


Lon Brewer


Dan Marlar


W. W. Rutherford


Jean Richardson


Robert Leroy Hull


Allie Rudolph


Alfred Stone


Eddie Moran


 William Cottrell

January-October 1960

James Latimer


Leslie Bone


Leonard Turner


Harold Reeves


Carlton Hatcher


Bobby Garland


Mike Justice


Virgil Lawrence


 Tony Smith

1978-April 1992

John Sparks


Charles Fike

February 1996-present

Updated August 16, 2006

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