2005-2007: Mount Olive Considers a Preschool Ministry
“Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them. Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them,for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’ When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there.” Matthew 19:13-15
When we envisioned the mission of the Mount Olive Preschool, we took to heart Jesus’ command to bring little children to His Word, to support them in deepening their faith, and share the Good News with their families. This call to reach out to our smallest members of the community led our church to take its first steps in opening a preschool for the wider Irmo community. First, the lower level of the Fellowship Hall was completed in 2005 with an office, classrooms and bathrooms. This additional space :presented the congregation with the opportunity to provide community service in the form of a preschool.
A Preschool Planning Committee was formed later in 2005: David and Patti Painter, Frank and Sandy Osborne, Mary Schott, Aresa Boykin, Dee McCoy, David Cook, and Pastor Sizemore. Pastor suggested that the group visit the preschool at his former congregation in Simpsonville to help the group navigate the establishment of our Preschool.
As a result of much planning and the congregation’s enthusiasm, the Mount Olive Lutheran Preschool opened in September 2007, with classes for 3- and 4-year-olds. Our first director, Krista Bernthal served for ten years. Under her leadership, a 2-year-old class and a special needs class were added, and she encouraged the church to consider updating the playground to make it safer for the children. The Preschool Board and Krista began the Preschool Mardi Gras Fundraiser in 2008. This exciting event has been held every year and provides funding through an auction. Krista and her family are pictured at the celebration of her service to the Preschool.
2008: Mount Olive Celebrates 75th Anniversary!
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” 1 Peter 2:9-10 ESV
The weekend of April 20, 2008 marked an historic 75th anniversary celebration for Mount Olive! The planning committee, co-chaired by Connie Parsons and congregational president, Mike Knowles began working on plans well in advance. The committee collected photographs and memorabilia from long-time members and tasked Eddie Magic and Rich O’Dell with developing and presenting a PowerPoint presentation that was shared after the special dinner. Many tables, filled with displays of Mount Olive through the years, lined every hallway and perimeter of the fellowship hall. There was so much rich history on display. It was evident that God’s hand was at work in the people of our church.
The day began with Worship and Holy Communion for the Fifth Sunday of Easter. The handbell and adult choirs were at their best! The service began with the hymn “Christ is Made the Sure Foundation,” followed by Psalm 84, “O Lord Almighty, blessed is the man who trusts in you.” The scripture that began this chapter was from the day’s epistle reading. Pastor’s sermon was, “Remembering Our Past – The Key to Our Future.” Letters of congratulations from LCMS President The Rev. Dr. Gerald Kieschnick and the Southeastern District LCMS, The Rev. Dr. Jon Diefenthaler were read to the congregation. The State Senate recognized the church with a plaque honoring its 75 years of serving the community. It was presented by State Representatives Chip Huggins and Nathan Ballentine.
Along with Pastor Sizemore, former Pastors Edward Devan and Paul Ludwig joined in the festivities of the day. Three founding members, Mrs. Gladys Meetze, Mr. Henry J. Lawhorne, and Mr. Elton Meetze were present and had many memories to share. As always, the congregation topped off the day with their succulent dishes for the fellowship meal.
There is one more point worth mentioning. At the 50th Anniversary, Mount Olive was struggling with growth outside of the founding families. By the time of the 75th Anniversary, the church was well on its way to becoming not only a community church, but a Midlands church.
2009: Mount Olive Gains a Lay Minister
“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15
As our church grew, we saw that the work of caring for the flock was bigger than what one person could manage. Therefore, we were led by God to call a Lay Minister to support Pastor Sizemore – a person who met the qualifications as outlined in 2 Timothy. Bill Boykin became our Lay Minister in October 2009 after his completion of the LCMS program of study from Concordia, Mequon.
After several years of faithful service, the church officially commissioned and installed him on Pentecost Day, May 19, 2013. He strives to be a true servant of Christ, assisting the pastor and congregation wherever he is needed. His visits and calls to the homebound and hospitalized members are just two of the reasons the Mount Olive congregation looks to Bill in times of need. Bill’s administrative skills have provided continuity in the daily operation of the church. Likewise, Bill and his wife, Aresa, have been models of selfless service for our congregation.
2009: Mount Olive Enters into the Digital Age
The Website: mtolivesc.org
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8 NIV
Our mission at Mount Olive Lutheran Church is to grow in faith and love by spreading the Word of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and due to the changes in technology over the past two decades our mission to share the Good News of God’s saving grace has had a wider audience than ever before. We literally are able to take His message of love and grace to the ends of the earth in a matter of minutes! As a result, the role of the Board of Public Relations has experienced major changes, too. Advertising went from print media like The State Newspaper, The Yellow Pages, and the monthly newsletter to the World Wide Web.
In 2009-10, Pastor Sizemore began this transition with a professionally developed and maintained website along with our brand, mtolivesc. This was expensive, and updates had to be sent to the Minneapolis company, Adsoka, to be incorporated. This meant that there were very few changes. Thankfully, new technology emerged allowing persons to maintain websites without knowing special coding language. Our website was converted to this type of dynamic site by a former Adsoka employee, Gretchen Westbrook. Aresa Boykin, the board chairperson, undertook its weekly upkeep. In 2014, the website was updated to include a page for audio recordings of sermons. A link for electronic giving (managed by VANCO) was added in 2014, as well, so that people could contribute online to the church and preschool.
To keep up with the evolving technologies, our own Meghan Smith reconfigured the website in 2018-2019 so that it would be user-friendly on all types of devices: computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones. She also added the latest security measures to protect the site from hackers and fraud. In 2020, a secure member’s page was added to include the church directory. Aresa continues to maintain the content of the site while Meghan handles the technical side from her new location in Texas. The website home page, mtolivesc.org, is pictured above.Social Media
Around 2009, the church secretary, Johnna Duncan brought Mount Olive into the world of social media. The church began with its Facebook account and is now working its way into Instagram and other platforms. Photographs are a necessity in maintaining interesting social media, so Aresa became the unofficial Mount Olive photographer. You can find her at most every church function with her “big camera” or phone, snapping memories for all of us to enjoy on the website, social media, or on our old-fashioned bulletin boards. Our social media has followers from all over the U.S. and the world, from China to South Africa, and the Middle East! These followers include extended friends and families of current members, former Mount Olive members, LCMS staff, and random people who like our posts.
Because technology and devices were ever changing, many people needed pointers so they could keep up. In 2014, the board began hosting Saturday morning Technology Help Sessions. Members brought their devices and questions and received one-on-one assistance from members who were tech savvy. Pictured are members David Bartles (dec.) getting pointers on his smartphone and Gloria Meetze learning to use her new laptop.
2011: The Columbarium
“Come to me all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 NIV
As the church grew, new possibilities arose for us to care for one another even during our last days on earth. This included finding additional space where members could find rest in the Lord. Due to our congregation’s growth, we installed a columbarium. As there was limited space in the cemetery, an entire burial plot did not need to be used to bury an urn. Matthew Fletcher was instrumental in helping the church find the appropriate size and style, and it really came to us on “a slow boat from China!” The columbarium was dedicated on September 30, 2012.
2011: Stephen Ministry
“Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2 NRSV
As Mount Olive continued to grow, the Holy Spirit called us again to find additional ways to care for one another, especially when members of our church family were carrying personal burdens or sadness. After taking part in area workshops, the leadership of the church decided to begin a Stephen Ministry program.
Stephen Ministry is Christian Caregiving ministry of laypeople within a congregation. The Stephen Ministers provide one-to-one care for persons who are going through difficult times, such as grief, job loss, illness, or being overwhelmed by circumstances. With support from Pastor Sizemore and the Board of Elders, the Boykins were instrumental in establishing a vibrant Stephen’s Ministry group. In January 2012, they attended Stephen Leader’s Training Conference in Orlando, and came back ready to train the first group of eight Stephen Ministers in March – May. Since that time, two additional leaders, Dianne BouFawaz and Charlie Sandt, have completed leadership classes. Through the years, twenty Stephen Ministers have been trained. Currently, there are six active Stephen Ministers and the care they provide is invaluable to those of us who are going through the usual crises of life.
2011: Anniversary of Ordinations
“This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24 ESV
On July 31, 2011, we rejoiced in the Lord specifically for His good favor in bringing two pastors to Mount Olive to oversee our growth in faith. On this day, we jointly celebrated Pastor Sizemore’s 30th and retired Pastor Paul Ludwig’s 60th anniversaries of their ordinations. In the tradition of Mt. Olive, we celebrated with a congregational dinner and tributes to these two Christian servants!
2011-15: The Preschool Continues to Grow
“I pray that your partnership with us in the faith may be effective in deepening your understanding of every good thing we share for the sake of Christ.” Philemon 1:6
In 2011, a climbing apparatus was purchased with memorials in memory of Nicholas BouFawaz. The children developed their confidence and climbing skills! However, the current playground remained a big concern of preschool parents because there was not an enclosed play area. The Preschool Board and Krista continued their research.
In 2014, after collecting ideas from playground builders and other preschools, the church voted to purchase a fenced, partially covered playground with both play equipment and a covered picnic area. The playground concrete base was covered with a cushioned surface to help prevent injuries. Trustees Allen Olsen and Matt Williams installed the fence. Construction began in February and the completed playground was dedicated on April 27, 2015, followed by delicious cookies and lemonade for all.
2012: The LWML Ladies Make New Chrismon Ornaments
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:24-25 ESV
After many years of trimming Mount Olive’s sanctuary Christmas trees, the old set of chrismon ornaments were falling into disrepair. The crafty ladies of our LWML, led by president Carole Mueller, and members Patti Painter and Darlene Schenemann, decided to research beaded Chrismons to determine if they might be able to make a new, more elaborate set. They found Rufty’s Chrismon Shop not too far away in Salisbury, N.C. and proceeded to make several field trips to learn the craft. As the core group would learn a pattern, they would assemble the kits of the precise types and sizes of beads, wire, and directions, and teach the rest of the group.
By Advent 2012, they had made nearly 40 chrismon ornaments to replace most of the older set. The new beaded chrismons were a variety of crosses, stars, fish, bells, butterfly, Trinity key, Chi-Rho, and a fishing boat. Patti and Darlene decided to try some of the harder, more elaborate ornaments, and by the next year, they were teaching the ladies to make 3-D chrismons including a chalice, poinsettia, crown, open Bible, and a pair of sandals. By Advent 2014, the church trees had been completely transformed with the new chrismons. There were so many new ornaments that the red balls and flowers were not needed. A few more of the larger chrismons were made the following year. Take a close-up look next Advent!