Our History

The Little church on the corner with a “BIG HEART

Our Story

Since 1920

@2804 McGowen Street, Houston Texas



A group of believers desired a place of worship near their residential locations. Rev. H. L. Thomas was the first pastor of this small band of Christians in 1920 who called themselves members of the Mary Olive Missionary Baptist Church. After some time as the church’s leader, Rev. Thomas accepted a pastoral position in another Texas location.

Rev. C. H. Durden was called to become the successor of Rev. Thomas and remained so for two and a half years.


In 1930 Rev. Floyd Johnson accepted the helm of pastor. Prior to his tenure as pastor, Mary Olive was housed in a one level frame building. However, Rev. Johnson became active in rebuilding the structure during his two-year stay. Following which he left for service elsewhere.

Much to the delight of the faithful Mary Olive members, Rev. H. L. Thomas returned to Houston and accepted the request to shepherd the small flock for the second time. Before his death in 1946


Rev. Thomas’ son-in-law, Rev. A. J. Kemp, stepped into the pastoral position.

During his time of service, Rev. Kemp was instrumental in changing the physical layout of the church by removing the baptismal pool from beneath the pulpit to the rear of the choir stand. He then remodeled the church from pulpit to foyer.

After approximately thirty-four years as pastor, Rev. Kemp expired in 1980


The Calvin James family was one of the founding families of Mary Olive. Rev. Calvin James became the next leader of the church. Under his leadership concrete walks and steps were added. A front yard sign with the church name was built. After seven years in leadership, Rev. James orchestrated the appointment of Rev. A. L. Hickman as Mary Olive’s new pastor. 


On January 3, 1988 Rev. Hickman became Senior Pastor and Rev. Calvin James became the firs Pastor Emeritus and remained loyal to the church until his death in June 1994.


On January 3, 1988 Rev. Hickman became Senior Pastor and Rev. Calvin James became the firs Pastor Emeritus and remained loyal to the church until his death in June 1994.


While in tenure, Rev. Hickman was instrumental in paying off debts and obtaining property for a parking area. In 1994 with God’s help and the vision of Rev. Hickman, Mary Olive had central air and heating installed and new light fixtures were added. New carpet was installed in 1995 and a new communion table, piano, and offering table were purchased.


On November 3, 1995, Mary Olive celebrated its seventy-fifth Church Anniversary with a banquet at the Harvey Hotel, 2712 Southwest Freeway, by honoring our Bridge Builders, those who had been active members of Mary Olive for fifty years of more, who could say “I fought a good fight, I have finished the race. I have kept the faith.” (II Timothy 4:7). It was a celebration of Love, Wisdom and Faith.

On December 30, 1995 the pastor’s post was vacant again. Rev. Maurice Minnafee served as Interim Pastor from January 1996 to April 28, 1996. At that time prayers were answered in the person of Rev. Johnny F. James who became the new pastor.

Rev. James in his first year began additional remodeling with the purchase of a new organ and paving the parking area adjacent to the church. During his pastoral reign, the largest reconstruction accomplishments were a new meeting room, pastor’s study, men and women restrooms, spacious kitchen and fellowship hall (both of which replaced the rear hallway of the church which had been in use as a kitchen and serving area). A dedication was done and the name “The Calvin and Leola T. James Fellowship Hall” was given. In October 2002 a fifteen passenger van was purchased. Now Mary Olive Members could be transported to services in and out of town.


 Rev. J. F. James’ health began to decline in July 2008. Rev. Gerald V. Shanks became Interim Pastor on August 15, 2008 and Rev. James became Pastor Emeritus. On Tuesday, August 28, 2008 Rev. Shanks was voted in as our Pastor. Rev. James remained a member of the church until his health failed.

A new roof was installed during the first week of Rev. Shanks’ pastoral reign, (August 8- 23, 2008). On November 9, 2008 at 3:30 P.M. Rev. Shanks was officially installed by            Rev. Max Miller of Mt. Hebron Missionary Baptist Church.

Under his leadership the church remains in restoration with projects including the enlargement of the kitchen to accommodate new equipment; new lighting fixtures installed in the sanctuary; erecting a permanent handicap ramp on the front stairs; adding an additional parking area on the opposite side of the church; adding a recording booth; paving both parking lots. A new organ was purchased and later a set of drums was added to enhance our music department.

Rev. Shanks was instrumental in establishing a 501c (3) – Project Restoration Outreach Ministries which includes a Food Pantry Program that serves approximately 150 people monthly. Through this ministry a grant was received to obtain a free-standing freezer to store larger quantities of perishable items for distribution.

The “Faithful Few” of Mary Olive has endured many changes in its ninety-eight years of history: physical changes to the building as eight pastors shepherded the flocks, equipment changes, and curb appeal. With God as our leader, we have overcome and are still moving forward with new ideals in sight.

Our Mission

Mary Olive Missionary Baptist Church is an assembly of believers committed to sharing the TRUTH and HOPE of the Gospel, by being actively involved in our community. We seek to reach out, teach and love on the community around us! We believe that a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is the first step in having a life of eternal peace and hope, and we want to share that hope with you!

Our Beliefs

We believe that Jesus is the only Son of God and that He died and rose again to pay for our sins. If we recognize our sinful state and accept the gift of His sacrifice, we will have eternal salvation that we cannot lose. We believe that the Bible is the true and living Word of God and is our guidebook for life. We also believe in Scriptural Baptism and taking the Lord’s Supper as essential tenants of our Faith. Through all these we can establish a close and deep relationship with our Lord and Savior, and we want to share that with you!