MOUNT OLIVE - University of Mount Olive joins many in the state of North Carolina mourning the loss of the Reverend Earl Hollis Glenn, the last of the original members of the College’s first Board of Directors. Glenn died Tuesday, September 24. He was 88 years old.
“The Reverend Earl Glenn was an important figure in University of Mount Olive’s history,” said University of Mount Olive President Dr. Philip P. Kerstetter. “Not only was the Reverend Glenn a member of our first Board of Directors, he also wrote the very first college catalog, and he helped develop the liberal arts curriculum for the first collegiate level courses. During the early years of University of Mount Olive he also directed a Young People’s Bible Conference. His wife, Marie, worked as registrar at the College, and two of his daughters and one son-in-law are MOC alumni. The Reverend Glenn’s ties to University of Mount Olive are long and deep, and he will be sorely missed.”
Born in Durham, NC, in 1925, to Edward and Coy Glenn, the Reverend Glenn knew from a young age that his calling was in ministry. In his autobiography, My Humorous Memories of Family and Friends, he recalls playing church, baptizing his friends, and even leading funeral services for passing pets. Being brought up in a strong Christian setting, even being named after a well-known Free Will Baptist (FWB) minister, allowed Glenn to find his path, and he chose to study for a year at the FWB Bible College in Nashville, Tennessee.
It was here that he met his wife, the late Marie Gilbert Glenn, marrying her in 1948 in Nashville. Together they had three children; Linda, Holly, and Jan; three grandsons, and four great grandchildren.
After leaving Nashville, Glenn enrolled at Duke University where he studied for three and a half years. During this time, he worked as pastor at two churches, Tippets Chapel and Smithfield. He eventually resigned from Tippets Chapel to work full time at Smithfield, where he began to grow the city church from a small congregation to a full ministry with a regular Sunday school attendance of around 200 young people. His work there did not go unnoticed and he began to receive offers to hold revivals at other churches, some lasting up to two weeks, baptizing almost 50 people a day.
In 2007 he was recognized by the Free Will Baptist Ministerial Association when he received the P. T. Lucas Pastor’s Award for Excellence in Ministry.
Glenn’s next venture led him to take up the pastorate at First FWB Church of Wilson, in a dilapidated old building. With his leadership, a new building was planned, and by the time Glenn left in 1962, it was completed and paid for in full. Once again, the church attendance sky rocketed, even on a Wednesday night where there were as many as 256 worshippers. Glenn’s ideas for spreading faith even extended beyond the borders of the church, as his Sunday night services were broadcast live on radio. Within the few years Glenn worked at First FWB in Wilson, he more than doubled the budget; a small testament to the amount of charity and work he put in to the ministry.
Glenn then moved to Saint Mary’s FWB Baptist Church in New Bern. He arrived at a controversial time, but under Glenn’s guidance, attendance at this church also rose. After being offered the pastorate position at The First FWB Church in Goldsboro, Glenn and Marie built a house and continued to enjoy another successful church tenure. In 1979 after a short tenure at La Grange FWB Church, the Glenns began the first of their 22 years of service with Daniels Chapel FWB Church in Wilson. As always, Glenn poured his heart and soul into the development of the church, adding such services as the Golden Age Club, an annual rose service, a new member’s banquet, and most impressively the family Life Center, a $200,000 facility that was paid for in five years. The budget of the church grew from $69,000 to $175,450 in less than two decades.
“The Reverend Earl Glenn’s pastorate at Daniels Chapel FWB Church is still being felt today,” said The Reverend Johnny Sullivan, current pastor of Daniels Chapel FWB Church. “His legacy here will forever have an everlasting impact on the future of this church as God continues to move it forward. His 22 years of Godly service will forever be etched in our souls; for his impact and touch upon this congregation is still felt today and will be for years to come.”
Charles Pittman III, a long-time member of Daniels Chapel, spoke highly of Glenn. “Earl Glenn was an ideal pastor, always visiting the sick and shut-ins. He preached a wonderful and dynamic sermon every time he stepped in the pulpit. With his humble style, he had a way of stretching each of us in our service to the Lord beyond our comfort zone. Never, have I seen a man walk the talk as much as Reverend Glenn did. He was truly a God-called servant and one I will always remember.”
Just prior to Glenn’s death, both University of Mount Olive and Daniels Chapel FWB Church honored him for his leadership, service, and dedication. Daniels Chapel named Glenn Pastor Emeritus. University of Mount Olive awarded Glenn an honorary doctorate of Christian Service in a special service held at Stoney Creek FWB Church in Goldsboro.
“As one of the founding members of University of Mount Olive and as a devoted FWB minister, the Reverend Earl Glenn epitomized all that is University of Mount Olive,” Kerstetter said. “He leaves behind a legacy in each of the seven churches he pastored, as well as at University of Mount Olive. His life of service has touched many and his legacy will be long lasting.”
In appreciation for the Glenns many years of Christian service and their relationship with University of Mount Olive, friends of the Glenns established the Earl Hollis and Marie Gilbert Glenn Endowed Scholarship Fund at University of Mount Olive in 2007. Upon the Reverend Glenn’s death, the family requested that memorials to Mr. Glenn be made to this Fund.
University of Mount Olive is a private institution rooted in the liberal arts tradition with defining Christian values. The College, sponsored by the Convention of Original Free Will Baptists, has locations in Mount Olive, New Bern, Wilmington, Goldsboro, Research Triangle Park, Washington and Jacksonville. For more information, visit www.moc.edu.