Rev. Dr. Wilbur S. Browning
Wilbur Browning, since 1994, serves as the Senior Pastor of Centennial Olivet Baptist Church, Inc. He is responsible for casting vision; preaching the Word of God; the spiritual oversight of the membership; leadership training and the general development and biblical education of the congregation.
Wilbur has served on several community and non-profit organizations including CLOUT and Seven Counties Services, Inc. In 1996, Wilbur founded and is CEO of Centennial Olivet Community Outreach Association (C.O.C.O.A.), a community development corporation in the Historic California Neighborhood of West Louisville.
Wilbur received from the City of Louisville the Certificate of Merit for Outstanding Contribution in the Community. He also, has been a workshop presenter for several Christian Education Institutes.
Browning received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from The University of Louisville, a Master of Divinity degree from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Doctor of Ministry degree from Samford University, Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham Alabama.
Wilbur and his wife Valerie have two sons, two daughters, and five grand-children.
The History of Centennial Olivet Baptist Church
The Harvey Street Church, which later became known as The Centennial Olivet Baptist Church.
Many years ago, in approximately 1807, two devout deacons, Lee Smith and Calvin Shipp of the York Street Baptist Church, now known as the Calvary Baptist Church, learned of a Sunday School being held in the home of Washington and Margaret Harris. This couple would gather people in their home teaching them to read and teaching them about God. Smith and Shipp organized the Harvey Street Baptist church.
The late Layman, William Steward was instrumental in the development of the church as he was educated and able to help. In the early days he was a postman inCalifornia, and he knew the people intimately. Freedom and a chance for knowledge made fertile soil, so large revivals were common after which candidates for baptism would be taken to the Beargrass Creek for baptism.
One year an evangelist commonly known as “Big Foot Davis” conducted a fruitful revival and in the excitement of the day that was decided on for baptism – it was the pastor’s Sunday for his salary; the group went against the pastor’s protest and when they returned they found the church locked. The disgruntled part took shelter onPrentice Streetand later joined the group onNinth Streetwhich finally became theWestChestnutBaptistChurch.
The Harvey Streetgroup continued as such until they finally went to 14th and Broadway. While there the town was astir with a Centennial celebration. In the meanwhile, a prominent undertaker, a Mr. Taylor was paying the pastor’s salary for another group. The leaders decided to consolidate the two groups and have them to become known as theCentennialOlivetChurch. Before long, this group returned to Harvey Street and worshipped in a little wooden structure where many happy souls were converted.
Centennial always had a good Sunday School and a good choir. She has had only a few superintendents because they have all been persons sold to their tasks. The late Mrs. Mary V. Parrish and Emma Dortch were among the early teachers. Deacon Dan Dorsey was the last to survive of the early deacons.
The organizing committee of the church was Abe Pope, Adline Butler, Lucinda and William Fields, Margaret Roberts, Puss Marimen and Nelson Roberts. Abe Pope purchased the lot at 1519 W.St.Catherine from Mr. Ormsby and presented it to the church. Lumber was purchased from the old Taylor Barracks to erect a small structure. When partly completed they entered it and gained as new members Sophia Mills, Edmond Thomas, James and Dave Wilson and Nelson Holloway.
They ordained as deacons, Abe Pope, Dan Dorsey, James Wilson, Edmond Thomas, James Simmons, Nelson Roberts, Ben Mills and John Spruce, later John Dorth.
Among the next converts were Kate Dean Shipp and George Roberts.
Pastors of Centennial were Reverends John Hightower, Nelson Bruitt, Benjamin Franklin, J.W. Lewis from 1884-1919, Thomas J. Lewis from 1919-1927, C.E. Starnes from 1929-1938, L.H. Woolfolk acted from 1938-1949 and W.F. Wilson from 1940-1974.
Sunday School Superintendents were Washington Harris, Henry Harris, Eleanor W. Starks and Effie Wilson. The first Sunday School used the Blue Back Speller as literature.
Presidents of Missionary Society: Eleanor W. Starks, Daisy Lee, Josie Crumes, Agnes McDowell, Reella Alexander.
Great club leaders: Katie Shipp, Emma Dortch, Mary Gilliard, Addie Duff, Estella Brannon, Malinda Johnson.
BTU leaders: Alice Dortch, Peter Pincham.
Modern deacon board: John Valentine, George Alexander, Henry Johnson, Almond Stieger, Arthur Redd, Ben Allen, Delean Cowherd, Arlanda Gazaway, Edward McDowell, Lee Crumes.
Trustees: Joseph Kilpatrick, James A. Redd, James Day, Clifford Jackson, Fred Johnson, James Bell.
Ministers ordained – E.W. Reed, J.W. Brady, John Anderson
What We Believe as Baptist
1. The Scriptures. The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments were given by inspiration of God, and are the only sufficient, infallible, inerrant, certain and authoritative rule of all saving knowledge, faith and obedience.
(Psa. 19:7; 2 Tim. 3:15,16; 2 Pet. 1:20; Rom. 1:16)
2. God. There is but one God, the Maker, Preserver and Ruler of all things, having in and of Himself all perfections and being infinite in all of them; and to Him all creatures owe the highest love, reverence and obedience.
(Gen. 1:1, 2, 26-27, 2: 1-4; Isa. 43:10; Jer. 10:6; Rom: 16:26)
3. The Trinity. God is revealed to us as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, each with distinct personal attributes, but without division of nature, essence or being.
(Isa. 48:10; Eph. 4:4-6; 1 Pet. 1:2; 1 John 5: 7; )
4. Providence. God from eternity decrees or permits all things that come to pass, and perpetually upholds, directs and governs all creatures and all events; yet, so as not in any wise to be the author or approver of sin not to destroy the free will and responsibility of intelligent creatures.
(Neh. 9:6; Prov. 16:9; Psa. 145:9; Matt. 6:26; Luk. 21:33)
5. Election. Scripture affirms that God chooses a people as his own, not on account of their numerical strength or moral merits, but on account of his love for them. Election is on the basis of divine grace, not human merit.
6. The Fall Of Man. God originally created man in His own image and free from sin; but, through the temptation of Satan, he transgressed the command of God and fell from his original holiness and righteousness; whereby his posterity inherit nature corrupt and wholly opposed to God and His law are under condemnation, and as soon as they are capable of moral action, become actual transgressors. (Jerem. 17:9-10; Rom. 3:10-18)
7. The Mediator. Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, is the divinely appointed mediator between God and man. Having taken upon Himself human nature, yet without sin, He perfectly fulfilled the law, suffered and died upon the cross for the salvation of sinners. He was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended to His Father, at whose right hand He forever liveth to make intercession for His people. He is the only Mediator, Prophet, Priest, and King of the Church and Sovereign of the universe who will come again in glory for all true believers among the living and the dead.
8. Regeneration. Regeneration is a change of heart, wrought by the Holy Spirit, who quickeneth the dead in trespasses and sins, enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the Word of God, and renewing their whole nature, so that they love and practice holiness. It is a work of God's free and special grace alone.
9. Repentance. Repentance is an evangelical grace, wherein a person being, by the Holy Spirit, made sensible of the manifold evil of sin, humbleth himself for it, with godly sorrow, detestation of it, and self-abhorrence, with a purpose and endeavor to walk with God so as to please Him in all things.
10. Faith. Saving Faith is the belief, on God's authority, of whatsoever is revealed in His Word concerning Christ; accepting and resting upon Him alone for justification, sanctification and eternal life. It is wrought in the heart by the Holy Spirit, and is accompanied by all other saving graces and leads to a life of holiness.
11. Justification. Justification is God's gracious and full acquittal of sinners, who believe in Christ, from all sin, through the satisfaction that Christ has made, not for anything wrought in them or done by them; but on account of the obedience and satisfaction of Christ, they receiving and resting on Him and His righteousness by faith.
12. Sanctification. Those who have been regenerated are also sanctified by God's word and have the Spirit dwelling in them. This Sanctification is progressive through the supply of Divine strength which all saints seek to obtain, pressing after a heavenly life in cordial obedience to all Christ's commands.
13. Perseverance of the Saints. Those whom God hath accepted in the beloved and sanctified by His Spirit, will never totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace, but shall certainly persevere to the end; and though they may fall, through neglect and temptation, into sin, whereby they grieve the Spirit, impair their graces and comforts, bring reproach on the Church and temporal judgement on themselves, yet they shall be renewed again unto repentance, and be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.
14. The Church. The Lord Jesus is the Head of the Church, which is composed of all His true disciples, and in Him is invested supremely all power for its government. According to His commandments, Christians are to associate themselves into particular societies or churches; and to each of these churches, He hath given needful authority for administering that order, discipline and worship which He hath appointed. The scriptural officers of a church are Bishops or Elders (Pastors and Deacons).
15. Baptism. Baptism is an ordinance of the Lord Jesus, obligatory upon every believer wherein he is immersed in water in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, as a sign of his fellowship with the death and resurrection of Christ, of remission of sins, and of his giving himself up to God, to live and walk in newness of life. It is prerequisite to church fellowship and to participation in the Lord's Supper.
16. The Lord's Supper. The Lord's Supper is an ordinance of Jesus Christ, to be administered with the elements of bread and wine, and to be observed by His churches until the second coming of Christ. It is in no sense a sacrifice, but is designed to commemorate His death, to confirm the faith and other graces of Christians, and to be a bond pledge and renewal of their communion with Him, and of their church fellowship.
17. The Lord's Day. The Lord's Day is a Christian institution for regular observance and should be employed in exercises of worship and spiritual devotion, both public and private, resting from worldly employment and amusements with works of necessity and mercy the only exceptions.
18. The Resurrection. The bodies of men after death return to dust, but their spirits return immediately to God; the righteous to rest with Him; the wicked to be reserved under darkness to the judgement. At the last day, the bodies of all the dead, both just and unjust, will be raised.
19. The Judgement. God hath appointed a day, wherein He will judge the world by Jesus Christ, when everyone shall receive according to his deeds; the wicked shall go away into everlasting punishment and the righteous into everlasting life.
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