News and Views

Rev. Mary Brown Oliver

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The Rev. Mary Brown Oliver, a retired Elder, died Sept. 5, 2017. A Celebration of Life service was held Sept. 16 at National UMC (Metropolitan Memorial) in Washington, D.C., following viewings at Ebenezer UMC on Sept. 15 and preceding the service. The Rev. Bresean A. Jenkins officiated at the service. Bishop LaTrelle Easterling brought greetings and many clergy participated. These included Pastor Lucinda Kent and the Revs. Helen Fleming, Joe Daniels, George DeFord, Alfreda Wiggins, and Gerard Green, superintendent of the Greater Washington District. Retired Elder John Blanchard gave the eulogy.

Oliver was the first African-American woman to serve as a district superintendent in the Baltimore-Washington Conference (and the second denomination-wide). She served from 1990-1998 as the district superintendent of the Washington Central District and Dean of the Cabinet. From 1994-1998, it was known as the Washington-Columbia District; today it is the Greater Washington District.

Prior to the superintendencies, she served at Westphalia UMC, 1983-1988, and Northwood-Appold from 1988-1990, when she became a D.S. Afterward, she served St. Paul UMC in Oxon Hill from 1998 to 2003, the first female pastor in its 207-year-old history. She retired in 2003.

Mary Brown was born Jan. 1, 1934, to the late Hillary and Mary Louise Brown in Washington, D.C. She was educated in the D.C. Public Schools System. She and the late Charles Washington Oliver married in 1956 and had three children. He died in 2010. She continued her education, obtaining a Bachelor of Science Degree from the District of Columbia Teachers College, a Master of Arts Degree from Trinity College, and a Master of Divinity Degree from Howard University.

She was a dedicated educator in the D.C, Public Schools, focusing on building reading skills. She was an assistant principal and a summer school principal at Webb, J.O. Wilson, Birney and Richardson Elementary Schools.

She was the first African American Pastor at Northwood-Appold and led the church to burning its mortgage.

Oliver received many community and clergy awards. These included the Outstanding Women’s Award from Black Ministers Awards Committee, the Preaching Award from Prince George’s County and the Mary McLeod Bethune Award from the National Council of Negro Women. She was inducted into the Preacher’s Hall of Fame in May 2005. In 1990, Baltimore City Mayor Kurt Schmoke declared a special “Rev. Mary Brown Oliver Day.”

Survivors include her three children: Howard and Latasha Oliver, Allyson and Marvin Jones, and Clayton Oliver; five grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Condolences may be sent to Mrs. Allyson O Jones, 7205 Lois Lane, Lanham, MD 20705.