Mount Rose History
Mt. Rose Missionary Baptist Church, the oldest African American baptist congregation in Brenham and one of the first in Washington County, had its origins in secret church meetings held by runaway slaves and freedmen in the area in the 1850s.
After the Civil War, federal troops posted near this site in an area called Camptown. The presence of the 17th Infantry Division and an office of the Freedmen's Bureau ensured freedom of religious expression for emancipated Blacks in Brenham.
The First Baptist Church of Brenham offered letters of membership to the freed Blacks, but the group wanted to establish their own church. Thus, Mt. Rose was formally organized in 1868, led by Rev. Joe Lawson and Rev. James McBride. The church is named in honor of Rose Armstead-Whitaker, who gave a lot of her time and money to the church.
For several years, church services were held in brush arbors, in nearby homes, and finally in the soldiers' dining hall at Camptown. Mt. Rose and St. John A.M.E. held services there on alternating Sundays. When U.S. troops left, their land was sold and the proceeds were divided between Mt. Rose and St. John A.M.E. churches.
Mt. Rose's first permanent sanctuary was built in 1874, under Rev. Alfred Parker's tenure. Mt. Rose joined the Lincoln District Baptist Association in 1878 and remained a member for more than 130 years. Mt. Rose has enjoyed continuity in increasingly larger facilities on the same site since its organization.
For going on 130 years, Mt. Seriah Missionary Baptist Church has served as a solid Christian foundation for residents of Washington County. The bedrock of this foundation is its strong Christian values and unyielding moral teachings of the Gospel. Although the origin of its name is lost to history, it is likely derived from Seraiah, a scribe to King David (2 Samuel 8:17). Like Seraiah, Mt. Seriah’s mission has been to preserve, protect, and present God’s Word to His people.
This presentation of the Gospel began on Christmas Eve (December 24), 1891 when Dock Bolin purchased the land upon which Mt. Seriah is situated today. It is unclear as to whether a building existed on the property when Dock Bolin purchased the land, but what is clear is that from that day forward, Mt. Seriah has been in continual existence as a place of worship. On May 5, 1915 Dock Bolin formally deeded the land and property to the church.
Soon thereafter - on June 1, 1915 - several men of the church (Richard Baker, Oscar Sledge, W.L. Lewis and Will B. Johnson), presumably deacons, took out a Material Man’s Lien on the church with the Brenham Lumber Company. The purpose of the lien was to acquire an $80.00 loan (equivalent to $2,000 in 2019) to repair and remodel the existing church structure. This loan was to be repaid in two increments of $40 each, plus 8% interest, on September 1, 1915 and December 1, 1915.
Like much of its written history, a complete and accurate accounting of former pastors of Mt. Seriah is lost to posterity. Of note, however, are several well-known and highly regarded pastors, including (in order of occurrence) Rev. Silas, Rev. Emory Jacob (1950-1982), Rev. Edward Finley, and Rev. Robert James Lacey (1986-2013). After the death of Rev. Lacey on October 29, 2013, in the spirit of maintaining Mt. Seriah’s legacy, several visiting and interim ministers served in varying capacities at Mt. Seriah.
However, due to dwindling congregations and financial instability, in 2017 the Mt. Seriah MBC congregation requested that its church, facilities, and membership transfer over to Mt. Rose MBC. In 2018 the Mt. Rose MBC congregation accepted Mt. Seriah's request, and in 2019 Mt. Seriah MBC was legally transferred to Mt. Rose MBC. It now operates as the Mt. Seriah Outreach Campus of Mt. Rose MBC, with a focus on serving Blinn College students and the surrounding community.
Upon the transfer of Mt. Seriah to Mt. Rose MBC, Rev. (Dr.) John D. Harris, the pastor of Mt. Rose, serves as the pastor of the combined congregations, while Rev. Dock Williams serves as Lead Minister.