History

Mt. Olive Baptist Church

A Bible-Centered, Bible-Teaching, Bible-Believing Baptist Church!

Mt. Olive Baptist Church was founded on the third Sunday of August in 1859.


Reverend Verne E. Gerdes October 19th, 1921 – January 18th, 2003 (Pictured with his wife, Ruth) In Loving Memory

Verne Eldon Gerdes was born October 19, 1921, in Mason County, the son of Ernest V. and Lora M. Smith Gerdes.  He attended Pontiac Grade School located 2 ¼ miles south of the current Mt. Olive Baptist Church and graduated from Chandlerville High School in 1939.  For many years, he worked construction, also taking time to serve his country  when the war broke out in 1941.  He served in the U.S. Navy Security Force, Terminal Island, at Long Beach, and Seal Beach, Ammunition and Net Depot.  He came home in June of 1945 and was married to Ruth Vestal in Petersburg on August 8, 1945, by F.A. Worth.  He worked at Illinois Power, carpentered for approximately 12 years, and from 1962 until 1975 was employed at Crescent Forge & Shovel in Havana.  Verne first preached in 1950 at the Mt. Olive Baptist Church.  He continued to actively preach at Mt. Olive until his illness in December, 2002.    Other churches he preached at were the Southern Baptist Church in Chandlerville  and Hopewell Church in Snicarte, Illinois.

He was ordained at Mt. Olive Baptist Church on August 17, 1952.  He went to Bible School for two years at Tennessee Temple, Chattanooga, Tennessee.  Verne received his Honorary Doctorate’s Degree from Florida Bible College on December 21, 1977.

He ran a weekly Bible Study for many, many years, and Bible teaching was a kind of ministry Verne enjoyed and excelled at.   For 21 years he visited the Walker Nursing Home in Virginia the 1st Sunday of every month.  Other notable milestones were that he and Ruth were married for over 57 years and he lived in the same home at Bath for over 54 years. Verne is survived by his wife Ruth of Bath, Ill., three daughters:  Linda (John R.) Haegele of Placidia, Florida,  Judy (Bob) Shafer of Pleasant Plains, Ill., and Lisa, of San Diego, California, 2 grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.

Verne was well known and respected in the Chandlerville community, as well as for miles around, from Mason to Menard to Morgan and Sangamon counties.  God  blessed Verne with many talents, among them the ability to be compassionate and understanding, a man of peace.  He was well-known for his Bible teaching and emphasizing the inerrancy of scripture.  He was a friend to the young and old, an inspiration to all of us, but most importantly he was God’s man.  In today’s world where there are fewer preachers who will stand up and preach that the Bible means what it says, it was refreshing to have a pillar in our community who had the conviction to stand for the word of God.

Rev. Gerdes served as pastor at Mt. Olive for over 50 years.

Rev. Gerdes was buried at Mt. Olive Baptist Church cemetery in Chandlerville.


In Loving Memory of Rev. Rick Hohimer (Pictured with wife, Sheila) In Loving Memory

Rev. Rick Hohimer and his wife Sheila were both from our region of the country.  Both attended Petersburg (Porta) High School.  They have two daughters, April and Erica, who both reside in Springfield.  Pastor Rick ministered in churches in San Diego, CA and Springfield, IL before accepting the call to pastor at Mt. Olive.  Rev. Hohimer had a Masters of Biblical Studies in Bible Literature and was working on his Doctorate of Biblical Studies in Theology from Masters International School of Divinity.

Please remember Pastor Rick’s family in your prayers.


“We are confident, I say, and willing to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” – II Cor. 5:8