Each Friday, Baptist Women in Ministry introduces an amazing minister. This week, we are excited to introduce Dr. Mamie Oliver.
Mamie, tell us about your ministry journey, the places and ways you have been serving and are serving.
My ministry expands from high school in Los Angeles, California to Spokane, Washington and Boise, Idaho via university teaching. I served on the CBF-West council and the American Baptist Churches General Board of National Ministries.
I was born in Natchez, Mississippi, a radically segregated state. My family lived near the small town of Natchez on a rural small farm in Cannonsburg, Mississippi. Black children in the thirties and forties in Mississippi lived in an all black lifestyle. The schools I attended were all black. And if we went downtown, we could only drink from a water fountain marked, “colored only.” We seldom went to town except on weekends. All the store clerks were white. The movie houses would only permit black children to sit in a designated area upstairs in the theater.
My nurturing was done by an extended family of relatives and by women at the church. In the country, now described as the rural, my childhood was laced with chapters of adventure. Thankfully, the surroundings could be described as an environmentally natural setting. It was near the famous Natchez Trace; wooded, green, and crowded with animals, gardens, fruit trees, snakes, birds, hot sun, rain, thunder, lightning, and clouds. How much I have learned from my early years of being in that environment, for the wild creatures harbor no evil toward one another, and they trust their own inner sense of how to live. Yes, they are blessed. I have come to know that I am also. Life’s journey has had some pain and some laughter, but out of both came a song, lots of growth and even a few gray hairs.
The offspring of a single mother, I was the youngest of two female children. Mother valued education and literally took me from the state of Mississippi to California after she married. In California, she enrolled me in elementary school, gave me the opportunity to take piano lessons and raised me as an only child. As the first women in my family to pursue higher education, I was evidence that a new era had begun.
I have been involved in human services work for over forty years, conducting workshops and seminars on human issues and concerns. I am interested in social issues that affect children, families, women, ethnically diverse persons, and the aged.
After moving to Boise, Idaho, in 1972, I was an assistant and associate professor in the Department of Social Work at Boise State University—the first African American professor at Boise State. Program development has long been an interest of mine, and I successfully founded community-based programs in Washington, Idaho, and Rhode Island.
I am currently in private practice and pastor of Mountain View Community Fellowship in Boise, Idaho.
What do you find most rewarding in your ministry?
The most rewarding in my ministry is praying with and for all persons we can—the elderly, culturally diverse persons, and persons that need and want a relationship with Jesus.
How do you stay healthy, physically and spiritually?
Philippians 4:13 is my mantra! Physically, exercise helps and eating well is a plus! My wholeness depends on the faithfulness of the Lord! Support of family and friends gives me joy!
What is the best ministry advice you have been given?
Follow Jesus and carefully use the advice of others is the wisdom I have learned!