Mount Olive Celebrates Milestone Birthday With Arlington Icon N.L. Robinson
By Lindsey Perkins Wade
Posted on February 29, 2016, February 29, 2016

Mount Olive Celebrates Milestone Birthday With Arlington Icon N.L. Robinson

Pastor N.L. Robinson celebrates his 95th birthday on February 26, 2016, at Mount Olive Baptist Church in Arlington.
Photo Credit: Lindsey Perkins Wade

Hundreds of Mount Olive Baptist Church members waved American flags Friday night as their guest of honor and beloved senior pastor, Norman Lee Robinson, entered the church's family life center for his 95th birthday celebration.

Throughout the event, Pastor Robinson, who turned 95 on Feb. 23, pointed his finger in acknowledgement of his guests, smiled and waved, insisting that many come up to the stage where he sat for a quick conversation.

The annual church tradition, this one Olympic-themed, is three-plus decades old and began as a joint birthday celebration for Pastor Robinson and his wife, who had a March birthday. After she passed away two years ago, the church continued hosting the party.

Pastor Robinson came to Arlington in 1966 when Mount Olive's congregation consisted of 17 people. Under his leadership, the church's membership grew to 11,000, increasing quickly after colleges integrated.

Pastor Robinson's vision and dream made Mount Olive a cornerstone of the Arlington community, with a thriving and active congregation whose service extends beyond church walls. Among others ministries, the church created the nonprofit Water From The Rock, which assists economically disadvantaged individuals, and Arlington New Beginnings, a housing complex to serve low-income seniors.

Members light up when talking about Pastor Robinson, calling him a "people person" and insisting he will remember you, if not your name, after an encounter.

He also has a talent for mediation. "He's a great peacemaker," said Pastor James Thompson, Jr. "He encourages everyone to talk, discuss, but in a peaceful way. He's great at helping everyone find common ground and seek resolution."

All of these accomplishments - keeping members at the church for decades while attracting more and building outreach programs - is a testament to Robinson's gift for connecting with and inspiring people.

Rev. Robinson sat down to talk about living his American Dream in Arlington and how he and his church have helped so many others live their American Dream. You can watch that video here.

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