Pleasant Hill Baptist Church was established on June 7, 1850 on what is now the corner of Brownsville Road and Pine Valley Road. The Church was constituted by Reverend Robert McMinn and P. M. Rice and started as a brush arbor structure.
In 1867, after the civil war, the blacks removed themselves from Pleasant Hill Baptist Church, a white membership church, and established their own church. They began worshiping as New Hope Missionary Baptist Church under a brush arbor. Once a church site was obtained, Pleasant Hill Baptist Church donated a barn to them. The new church then built a plank building on their present site on Brownsville Road closer into town.
At one point, the congregation became discouraged and wanted to disband. Mrs. Frances Dodson’s grandfather, Francis Marion Mitchell, and two other men disagreed. They later received a letter on August 8, 1885, from Miles Edwards stating that he, Brother Colson and Brother Ragsdale would come. The church accepted these men to come and lead them.
Miles Edwards was among the first to be baptized at this church. Nearly thirty years later, he became the pastor.
When Francis Marion Mitchell died in 1913, he was buried in the church’s cemetery located behind the church. The earliest marked burial in the church’s cemetery is that of Mary E. Edwards in February of 1854. She was 28 years old.
In 1904. P. M. Rice led his congregation to tear down the old church building and rebuild a new one on the same property. The church was given its charter in 1916. Forty years later, the church was remodeled with rooms added for Sunday School. It was later bricked. In 1956 an addition was built.
Here is a listing of some of the Pastors who have served Pleasant Hill Baptist Church through the years. This is by no means a complete list nor the order in which they served as Pastors.
Robert Barber, G. R. Moore, J. M Muse, T. J. Johnson, M. Edwards, A. J. Morgan, H. A. Baldwin, J. H. Williams, J. H. Standridge, J. A. Edge, W. R. Barrow, Henry Meek, J. I. Abercrombie, J. S. Reynolds, S. E. Cassidy, W. E. McCollum, M.A. McCoy, J. T. Layton, J. W. Womack, and Bob Edison.
Reverend Fred Johnsa* was pastor for twenty-seven years, followed by the Reverend Gilbert Smith and Reverend Ernie Dodd. In June 1987, Reverend Lamar Rackley accepted the pastorate and is serving to date. The Reverend Marcus Merritt was the first Assistant Pastor. Reverend Lee Lawrence currently serving as the Assistant Pastor.
Early on Sunday morning, May 19, 1991, Pleasant Hill Baptist Church was destroyed by fire.
According to a newspaper article in the Dallas New Era by Vivian Couch Smith, the Fire Department determined the fire was caused after lightning struck the Church’s steeple. The members of the Church were optimistic and considered the act of God to be a blessing.
The Reverend Lamar Rackley said that the building may be gone but the Church (the people) was still there and they were excited and optimistic about building a new Church building.
The Church had outgrown its current building and had recently purchased property across the street to build a larger building to fit their needs. They had recently received approval from the Board of Commissioners to build a new Church and Church Cemetery on this property. Meanwhile, the members of the Church would hold services at Tapp Middle School until the new Church was completed.
Pleasant Hill Baptist Church is still serving the community in its ‘new’ location at 2433 Brownsville Road across from where the old church once stood.
Note – * The name of Reverend Fred Johnsa appears in some documents as Reverend Fred Johnson. The documents at the museum that was gathered by Sarah Frances Miller and used in this article shows his last name as Johnsa. In most of the death notices published also lists him as Johnsa.
The information about the church’s history comes from the various papers documented and compiled by Sara Frances Miller, Historian.
Information on the fire is from an article in the Dallas New Era Newspaper by staff writer Vivian Couch Smith dated around May 19, 1991.
These documents are on file at the Museum in the Research Room.