Mt. Olive Lutheran Church was home to fifty-seven members and held services in a rented storefront on 16th Street in Santa Monica when it was founded by Pastor A.O. Aasen in June of 1942. Within five years of its founding, Mt. Olive had not only purchased the storefront where its members were congregating, but also two lots of land on the corner of Fourteenth Street and Ocean Park Blvd.
In these first years Mt. Olive’s congregation grew rapidly and by 1950, our then-new church (and current site of our Parish Hall) was built and dedicated. Our church prospered due to dedicated Pastors, such as Pastor A.B. Swan and Pastor Cameron Hoff, who made it their mission to spread Christ’s word throughout the Santa Monica community. In fact, by September of 1954, our growing membership called for the need of a second service.
Mt. Olive has always held the belief that church and Biblical practices should begin on the Sabbath and continue through the rest of the week. For this reason, our members began many new activities both inside and outside of the church. These included the Women’s Missionary Federation, Lutheran Daughters of the Reformation, Mother’s Club, Men’s Brotherhood and Carol Choir. Although our activities have changed and evolved over the years, Mt. Olive continues to host church-sponsored activities such as Samaritan Sewing, Men’s Breakfast Bible Study, Film Night, Sisters in Christ and Senior Luncheons.
It was the culmination of these beliefs and practices that grew Mt. Olive’s membership to 1,214 baptized and a Sunday School of 408 by 1958. It was also around that time that Mt. Olive purchased the land adjacent to the church to develop as our new sanctuary.
Ground-breaking ceremonies for the new sanctuary took place in 1962 and within ten years, we had purchased additional property for the eventual site of Mt. Olive Lutheran Preschool. Our preschool opened in 1973 with a class of twenty-two students. Since then it has grown to hold eight classrooms, a playground and 3-times as many students.
In more recent years, Mt. Olive has developed even more community ministries, music and choir programs. We introduced Mt. Olive Movie Night, a popular monthly event that provides support to Santa Monica’s transient community by providing a free dinner followed by film and cinematic discussion. In 2005, we held our first (and now annual) German Christmas Eve service, which has grown to be Mt. Olive’s single most-attended service throughout the year.
Despite the many changes throughout our 70+ year-long ministry, one thing has remained constant at Mt. Olive Lutheran Church: The commitment to serving- without judgment, the diverse community of Santa Monica. It is a commitment that we steadfastly honor by proudly proclaiming ourselves as, “Mt. Olive Lutheran- A Church for the WHOLE community.”
Young, old. single, married, divorced, widowed. poor, working-class, middle-class, well off. We are preschoolers, elementary schoolers, middle schoolers, high school graduates, college graduates, Ph.D.’s, GED’s. Straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender. Black, white, Latino, Asian, Arab, Native American, Norwegian, German and more. We are people like you.
We know we are human. We make mistakes. Sometimes small mistakes. Sometimes big ones. We know we are going to die. We know we need the love and mercy of a gracious God. We know we need one another to bear one another’s burdens and help one another through the struggles of life.
We believe in one God--who made us, loves us, and is gracious to us. We believe in God’s promises of forgiveness and eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ. We believe that God continues to bless and guide and strengthen us through the Holy Spirit.
We believe that God calls us to make God’s love visible, audible and tangible in the world by showing love and care and compassion for others.
We strive to live not according to self-interest but in service to others as Jesus Christ taught. We serve the vulnerable in our neighborhood and around the world: the hungry, the homeless, people in recovery, those who are lonely, the sick, the elderly, children.
We gather on Sunday to worship and thank our gracious God. We sing, we play lots of music, different kinds of music. We rejoice. We have fun. A lot of fun. Worshiping, serving, living faithfully.
We study the Bible. We study Christian writings and traditions. We discuss how we can faithfully live out God’s values of peace and justice and compassion and restoration in our lives.
We believe that God can transform people. And that with the help of God’s Spirit, people can transform injustice into just society, conflict into peace, division into reconciliation, and potential death into life.
Mt. Olive is a church of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and a Reconciling In Christ Church. For information about the Lutheran tradition, go to www.elca.org. For more information about Reconciling In Christ go to reconcilingworks.org