The story of this church fellowship represents a saga of faith
The year was 1867 ... two years after the end of the Civil War. Kansas had been a state for six years. The second oldest Baptist Church in the city, Pleasant Green Missionary Baptist Church, was started in the west bottoms in 1867. The church was formed by a group of southern migrants who arrived in the bottoms prior to the development of heavy industry in that area.
The first pastor was Rev I. H. Brown. The worshippers met in a small building that had previously been an ice house, in the area of Kansas City that was then known as the "patch."
After the death of Rev Brown, the church was led by Rev Windom. Under the administration of Rev Thomas Alexander, the church erected a large frame building equipped with gas lights at First and Splitlog in 1879. Packinghouse workers and their families accounted for almost all the members of the Pleasant Green congregation. Following Rev Alexander, Rev C. H. Childers served one year and after his death, Rev Thomas Knapper served.
When Rev George McNeal came to the church in 1892, 20,000 former slaves had moved to Wyandotte County seeking shelter through the churches. Rev McNeal came to Kansas City on the Fannie Lewis when it mad its first stop on the Wyandotte levee.
The original church at First and Splitlog was destroyed by the floods of 1903-1904. A new building was erected, which shortly afterward was destroyed by fire. In 1918, Rev McNeal succeeded in persuading the Fowler packing company to donate building materials for a new church at Fourth and Oakland. After more than forty years as pastor of Pleasant Green, Rev McNeal died in 1933.
Rev Christopher C. Harper followed the leadership of Rev McNeal and served for five years.
From 1940 through 1946, Rev T. H. Wicks served. Under his administration the parsonage was purchased and the sanctuary redecorated.
In 1946, Rev Robert Earl Penn was called as pastor. Classrooms were built, new windows installed, the interior was redecorated and an overall face-lift was given. Rev McNeal's dream of stuccoing the church became a reality.
Rev Penn left in 1953. He was succeeded by Rev E. T. Thornton, who served until 1959. The building fund was started during Rev Thornton's service. The first unit of the church was redecorated and the indebtness of the new windows was paid.
Excerpts from church minutes, recorded on November 8, 1950 - Item 1: "David Gray, having appeared before the pastor, Rev R. E. Penn, stated that he had been called to preach and that because of his testimony the Board recommends that on November 22, 1950, he be permitted to preach a trial sermon and that it shall be part of the Women's Day Observances." He served as interim pastor of Pleasant Green before he was called by the church in January 1959, to serve as its pastor. Installation Service for Rev Gray was held Sunday, May 17, 1959. From the beginning of his administration in 1959, Rev David L Gray has had one scripture that has been his motto: "I Can Do All Things Through Christ Which Strengtheneth Me." Philippians 4:13. Under Rev Gray's administration, the first renovation was the installation of a new heating and air conditioning unit, new floors and carpets, painting on the interior and exterior and a new classroom addition. Being located in the Urban Renewal area, the church had a choice of moving or developing in this area. Because of Rev Gray's faith, we began construction on a $750,000.00 expansion program. The first phase of this program was an educational unit - east of the sanctuary. It housed a day nursery, kindergarten, fellowship hall, and recreation facilities. This building cost $250,000.00. This unit of the church was the first building in the Gateway Urban Renewal Area. August 1962 of the new building was dedicated for "The Glory of God and the Service of Man." The dining room was permanently set up for service family style. The kitchen facilities has steam tables, gas range with ovens, deep freezers, and refrigerated storage cabinets. It was used to house a Head Start Program. In 1966 the church received a grant for $40,663.00 from the Office of Economic Opportunity, working in conjunction with Kansas University. For eleven years the church housed a government sponsored preschool program. It was used for Sunday Bible School and Nursery. The building housed a remedial program sponsored by the Bureau of Child Research, University of Kansas. It was effective in helping the children who participated to reach higher achievement levels in their school work. The recreation area contains four bowling lanes with automatic pinsetters, an area for table tennis, shuffle board, and snack bar for refreshments, served during recreational functions. Before the hot lunch program came into the public schools, Pleasant Green provided lunches to a large number of students from Grant School each day. Students from Grant School came to Pleasant Green once a week for Weekday Church School. Another area of the first phase of the expansion program included purchasing all of the land north of the church to Jersey Creek. This land was developed for parking facilities and recreation. Work was completed for parking in 1972 and on Sunday, April 23, 1972 Pleasant Green received mortgage of the land from the Urban Renewal. In April 1972, a $250,000.00 renovation and expansion program began. First was the complete renovation of the sanctuary: purchase of cushioned pews, wall-to-wall carpeting, pulpit furniture and communion table; exterior painting on the first building which houses the sanctuary; enlargement and renovation of the educational building; purchase of lounge furniture; a new educational annex north of the sanctuary; a memorial tower and landscaping of the lawns. The new baptistery was used for the first time on December 24, 1972. The new pews were available for congregational use on Sunday, January 28, 1973. On October 7, 1973 there was Dedication Service and Open House of the Renovation and Building program. In memory of four trustees: Rubye McNeal, Morgan Warren, Sam Sirls and J. D. Lloyd, Carillon Chimes were purchased. Dedication Service of the chimes was Sunday, June 16, 1974. The Ground Breaking Service for the Miracle Building was held on January 25, 1976, our 60th Annual Men's Day. Rev Gray's goal is to get gospel spread throughout the world, and to this end, has instituted various ministries.
Following a prayerful search, Rev Lanelle Pickett came to serve the church family. He had a short pastorate, but is recalled as the one who led the installation of a ramp for the disabled, ordination of several deacons, revamping the Sunday School literature, and more.
With determination to await the gift of a pastor from God, the church family called Rev Dr. Jarvis L Collier, of Los Angeles, California on December 3, 2000. His leadership his already brought forth several noteworthy accomplishments; inauguration of the New Year's Day "Prayer, Praise and Preaching Bowl" worship; renovation of the pastor's office;. installation of a state of the art phone system; rewiring of the sanctuary electrical system; the return of many to faithfulness; regular baptisms; the Church pictorial Directory; the vision of the State of the Church Address; upgrading of the television equipment; the establishment of an endowment fund and a computer lab for the Pleasant Green Community School; the purchase of two church vans and the appointment of four men for the deacon board. We believe that much more creative ministry is on the way!
In a unique manner, God has led this church family with many Godly Pastors throughout her history. Her richness as a congregation can best be summed up in the words of the Apostle Paul: "I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth." (I Corinthians 3:6)
Despite transition, upheaval, crisis, joy and pain, the family of Pleasant Green Missionary Baptist Church, indeed, has weathered each storm, with a mighty faith, and a vibrant commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ.
We rejoice, finally, in the fact that the story yet continues....
Praise the Lord!!