UMO Holds Dedication Service

UMO Holds Dedication Service

MOUNT OLIVE – On Sunday, March 25, at 3 PM the University of Mount Olive (UMO) dedicated the newly renovated Rodgers Chapel and construction of the E. Lee Glover Center for Religious Studies. Nearly 200 people attended the event.

UMO Chaplain Carla Williamson presided.  Remarks were provided by Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. K. David Hines, President of the OFWB Convention the Reverend Ronnie Hobgood, Chair of the Department of Religion Dr. Neal Cox, and others.  The Concert Choir provided a beautiful selection of songs which also highlighted the newly installed Allen Three Manual L-33 model organ, made possible by an endowment by Vernice G. Jones.

President Dr. Philip P. Kerstetter noted that not long after his arrival at UMO, the University began a comprehensive capital campaign which included the expansion of Rodgers Chapel.

“We saw the need for a facility that could not only be used for worship services, but that could also be used more broadly for instruction, for reflection, and for gathering together both formally and informally to share, learn, and grow in faith,” Kerstetter said.  “I cannot thank you all enough for what we are witnessing here today.  I know that great things will happen here.  Rodgers Chapel and the E. Lee Glover Center for Religious Studies will be a beacon, one that will shine brightly as a testimony to faith at the University of Mount Olive for many years to come.”

Chair of the UMO Board of Trustees Earl Worley said, “This facility represents the next step on our journey of faith at the University of Mount Olive.  It will provide numerous opportunities to gather, to worship, to learn, to explore, and to share.  Faith has been, and continues to be, central to the mission of our University.  I have always appreciated the fact that Rodgers Chapel, and now the E. Lee Glover Center for Religious Studies are physically located on the center of campus as well. The intentional placement symbolizes the University’s commitment to the Christian faith.”

“This is a wonderful day for the University of Mount Olive and I stand before you today with a heart filled with gratitude.” said Vice President for Institutional Advancement Teresa Hines.  “Your generosity has transformed Rodgers Chapel and has made possible the construction of the E. Lee Glover Center for Religious Studies.  Because of the generosity of many of you, we have this welcoming place, open to all, to offer as a haven of peace and a place of communion for our students, our faculty and staff, and our community.  You have made this happen and we, the University of Mount Olive, will be eternally grateful.”

Over 260 donors contributed more than $2 million to the chapel expansion project. Portraits and bronze plaques, bearing the names of many of those donors, adorn the new spaces.  Chief among those donors was Dr. E. Lee Glover for whom the Center is named.  A 1959 graduate of Mount Olive Junior College, Dr. Glover was not able to be present for the dedication service.  However, he prepared remarks, which were read by his friend and former classmate, Gary Fenton Barefoot.

“I thoroughly enjoyed my two years at Mount Olive.  I made lifelong friendships with several of the professors and students,” Barefoot read from the remarks.  “The faculty and staff of the college created a caring environment.  I had never met so many sincere and committed people.  I developed a life-long interest in the school which had served me so well.  I am pleased to be able to give back to my favorite alma mater by helping underwrite the cost of this addition.  May this facility be a testament to our commitment to education, to our faith, and to our enduring relationships.”

The facility, encompassing 5,922 square feet, was designed by Little Diversified Architectural Consulting and constructed by Daniels and Daniels Construction.  It houses two classrooms, a kitchenette and coffee bar, a multipurpose room, and ten offices with floor-to-ceiling windows allowing beautiful views of the campus. A prayer garden, dedicated to Jean F. Ackiss, who provided 50 years of service to the development of Church Support at UMO, features a tranquil place for meditation and reflection.

All members of the Department of Religion, the Campus Chaplain, and the Director of Church Relations have relocated to the Center, allowing for the expansion of the University’s religious studies program, and further denoting the literal and figurative cornerstone of the campus community.

Campus Chaplain Carla Williamson said, “We are filled with joy at being able to return to our special space of worship and the new space for sharing hospitality and creating community!  We will now have space to hold spiritual formative classes and workshops. There will be space for students to relax and have coffee and talk theology together. My office will be located just across the hall from the Chapel, so when students come to me in tears, we can walk over to the Chapel and pray together.  God’s word will once again be proclaimed within the Chapel walls, music will fill the air, and prayers will rise from our souls. For all of this we are grateful.”

The University of Mount Olive is a private institution rooted in the liberal arts tradition with defining Christian values. The University, sponsored by the Convention of Original Free Will Baptists, has locations in Mount Olive, New Bern, Wilmington, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, Research Triangle Park, Washington, Jacksonville, and in Smithfield at Johnston Community College.  For more information, visit



Frist Lady Mary Kerstetter talks with former longtime UMO employee  Jean F. Ackiss, who has a garden named in her honor in the new E. Lee Glover Center for Religious Studies.  Looking on is Former first lady Rose M. Raper.

Gary Fenton Barefoot, friend and former classmate of Dr. E. Lee Glover for whom the Center is named, gave remarks on Glover’s behalf.

Several guests enjoy a conversation in the Jean F. Ackiss Prayer Garden, one of the highlights of the E. Lee Glover Center for Religious Studies.

Nearly 200 people attended the dedication of the newly renovated Rodgers Chapel and construction of the E. Lee Glover Center for Religious Studies at the University of Mount Olive