About Mount Olivet
Our Mission Statement
The Mission of Mount Olivet Lutheran Church is to be a community church making disciples of all ages and cultures in Christ.
At Mount Olivet, we worship in the name of Jesus. This means that we recognize one another as forgiven sinners, honor one another as children of God, and seek to serve one another as neighbors in Christ.
We welcome you and hope your faith is renewed during holy time with us!
Mount Olivet's History
Mount Olivet Evangelical Lutheran Church is a District of Columbia historic site in the Logan Circle Historic District. The building at 1306 Vermont Ave. NW – once known as the Christian Church of Washington, DC – was built in 1883. As we understand it, President James A. Garfield was a prominent member and served on the building committee; thus the current site later became known as Garfield (Memorial) Christian Church. In 1883, Lucretia R. Garfield donated the rose window over the entrance way and choir loft in memory of her husband, who was assassinated in 1881. National City Christian Church, currently located on Thomas Circle, previously used the building as its church home.
Mount Olivet was officially organized under the leadership of Rev. John E. Stephan in April 1933. Rev. William Schiebel initially served as a Student Vicar and returned to be installed as Pastor on Sunday, August 26, 1934. The congregation began as a small mission group that eventually grew to over 500 communicant members.
Worship services were held at the Phyllis Wheatly YWCA on Rhode Island Ave. NW, before the purchase of a house at 1325 Vermont Ave. NW. The Southeastern District (Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod) discontinued financial support in 1944 and recognized Mount Olivet as a fully-accredited voting member in 1951. Mount Olivet acquired the current church property in 1953.
Mount Olivet’s Members played a major role in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and 1970s. The Church served as a gathering place for Lutherans and was the location of a worship service preceding the historic March on Washington led by the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in August 1963. Edward Kennedy [Duke] Ellington is also said to have attended Sunday worship services and may have played the piano at Mount Olivet from time to time.
The riots that followed Dr. King’s assassination in 1968 brought unprecedented destruction to the city and left many people hungry and homeless. Mount Olivet members spent countless hours providing food, clothing and shelter for those affected. Members later joined the Solidarity Day rally, led by Dr. Ralph Abernathy of Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), and provided support to stranded marchers for several weeks.
In 1962, Mount Olivet established a daughter congregation, Peace Lutheran Church at 49th and Ames Street, NE. The current Pastor at Peace is the Rev. Lloyd D. Gaines, who also served as the Pastor of Mount Olivet from 1988 to 1997. The Rev. Dr. John F. Johnson was called to Mount Olivet in 2000 and serves as the current pastor.