In 1885, a small group of religious people joined together for church meetings in the fields and at each other’s homes. In 1888 they built a wooden structure on the property of Tom Mannings. This site was located across the road from the old Hines place. This building was given the name Pleasant Grove Baptist Church with Rev. Sam Drew serving as first pastor. There were no deacons, therefore, deacons from neighboring churches served until the first ordination. The first deacons were: Green Luppard, Preacher Harper, Green Gresham, Charlie Harper, Amos Carmichael, Warren Dean, Amos Harper, and John Moore.
In 1888, Rev. T. M. Allen, acting as moderator, ordained the first deacons. They were George Head, Sr., E. D. Beavers, Joe Hines, Keller Lemons, Joe Brewster, Henry Head and Sam Dallas. In 1893, the church was relocated to Charlie Manning’s property (about three quarters of a mile from the 1016 location). It remained there only a short while before it was moved again, first to Sleepy Hollow (where the cemetery is located) and finally to Billy Kemp’s place. However, in 1889 the Trustee Board met and drew up plans for purchasing one acre of land for $25 to erect a permanent church site.
The first church building was erected in 1901. Under the leadership of Pastor Drew, the membership grew until there was a need for a larger facility. Thus, the first building, located on this very same spot, became a school. When Pastor Drew moved to Oklahoma, his brother, Rev. Will Drew, became the second pastor. Under Pastor Will Drew’s administration, the larger building was constructed on the site next door to the 1016 Whitlock Avenue edifice, directly beyond the old oak tree (the stump still remains in the ground). The turn of the century was not the best times for Pleasant Grove as she entered into some of her darkest hours in history. In 1903, Pastor Drew resigned and then a terrible windstorm wrecked the building. It stood in this condition for two years, not because the people had lost faith, but because times were hard, work was slow, and wages were very low.
God in HIS own time and way sent a man with a family from the Big Bethel Church on Powder Springs Road – the late Rev. Green Moss. He and Deacon Henry Head, carpenters by trade, were employed to rebuild the church. In the latter part of 1903, under the third pastor, Rev. Green Luppard, the Trustees purchased enough lumber to finish the new building. The building, with periodic repairs, served until this edifice was ready for occupancy.
From 1903 through 1916, Pleasant Grove had five pastors. The Rev. John Wyatt served until 1907. Under his administration, the church joined the Kennesaw Baptist Association in 1905. The Rev. E. L. Allen served until 1911. In 1908, he sent the first delegate, Deacon Henry Head, to represent Pleasant Grove in the Association at Cave Springs, GA. Pastor Joe Jennings served from 1912 – 1914. Pastor John J. Freeman served the remainder of 1914 and 1915. Pastor Owens Tyers served the remainder of 1915 and 1916.
In February of 1916, the late Rev. A. V. Williamson was called to fill the pulpit. He was a young man full of ideas, alert, straightforward, and above all, he was a praying man. When he became Pastor, the church was dilapidated. He immediately initiated the needed repairs. In the early, lean years, the church building was enlarged, a choir stand was added and membership increased to more than 400. In 1946, Pleasant Grove became the first church in Marietta to own and operate a church bus. Under Pastor Williamson, Pleasant Grove had the honor of being first to present many reforms which were patterns for other local congregations. After 42 years of dynamic Christian leadership, Pastor Williamson was called home to his reward on May 27, 1958.
Most of this present generation had known only Pastor Williamson’s leadership and now faced the task of calling a pastor. Other ministers realized our limitations and prayerfully joined with us in seeking one to fill the vacancy. On November 8, 1959, the Rev. J. L. Dorsey was called, bringing with him an enviable record as a Christian leader, devoted family man, God-fearing counselor and courageous builder. When he was called, the church building fund, started under the late Pastor Williamson, amounted to less than $5,000. In 3 1/2 years, under his leadership, the amount increased to $30,000. Accepting God as the Master Builder, Pastor Dorsey, the officers, and members picked up the gauntlet. It was during Pastor Dorsey’s administration and lifetime that the church’s mortgage was paid. His death on June 7, 1975 set Pleasant Grove back in time as we were once again without a pastor.
Pastor C. L. Bryant succeeded him in 1976. A new bus was purchased under his leadership and he is credited with establishing full time service at Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church. Pastor Bryant served only a short time, but before leaving, he laid the groundwork for finding his replacement. On the second Sunday in August 1976, Pastor Bryant invited a fiery young preacher named Benjamin Lockhart, Jr. to preach the Homecoming sermon. At that time, Pastor Lockhart was the pastor at Faith Tabernacle in Atlanta. Impressed with his devotion to Christ and his ability to preach the word, the Senior Choir invited Pastor Lockhart back in November for their anniversary program. Pastor Lockhart had been profoundly touched by the potential he saw in the members of Pleasant Grove. He knew after his first sermon here, that this church was destined to be blessed because of the goodness of its people.
On the second Sunday in August 1977, one year to the date after his first sermon at Pleasant Grove, Deacon Copeland called Benjamin Lockhart, Jr. back to fill the recent vacancy created by Bryant’s departure. On the Friday before the first Sunday in January 1978, Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church, by unanimous consent, selected Benjamin Lockhart, Jr. as its 12th pastor.
With the help of God and the leadership of Benjamin Lockhart, Jr., Pleasant Grove has accomplished many dreams over the last 35 years. One of Pastor Lockhart’s priorities was to pay off the loan on the church bus purchased by Pastor Bryant. The church itself needed some improvements. Central air soon replaced the old air conditioning unit to make for more comfortable summer services. A new PA system made it possible for cooks and counters to hear the sermon in their respective work areas.
God has added many functioning ministries to the church and many souls to the vineyard under Pastor Lockhart’s administration: the church has grown in every aspect, spiritually as well as numerically. Fifty-two associate ministers assist the pastor in many endeavors. The membership has increased from just over 400 to approximately 1400. This tremendous growth necessitated a full time secretary for the computerized administrative operations of the church. This increase also necessitates a larger sanctuary. To fill this need, five acres were purchased at the corner of Whitlock Avenue and Lindley Avenue to build a new sanctuary.
Pastor Lockhart is a visionary and among his vision for Pleasant Grove’s future was to finish paying off the property at Whitlock and Lindley and to build a facility that would meet the needs of today and the future. Among those facilities, Pastor Lockhart lists a sanctuary that will seat 2,000 complete with balcony; a chapel; a fellowship hall; which can be converted to a gymnasium; an educational facility; a TV and Tape Ministry; a full time daycare; adequate office space, a fully equipped finance room; a conference room; a pastor’s study; and a historical room in which to store documents significant to our history and future.
For the vision is yet for an appointed time. And September 2000 was the appointed time. . . Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church marched from 1016 Whitlock Avenue to 566 Whitlock Avenue into the new sanctuary. Pastor Lockhart wrote the vision and made it plain and with the prayers, the perseverance of the church body, and the favor of God, it came to pass. In 2012, the East Wing Fellowship Hall was officially named Benjamin Lockhart Fellowship Hall. Pastor Lockhart is grateful for every ministry that God has allowed him to organize and for the kind of leaders that God has sent him to help carry Pleasant Grove to greater heights in doing the work of the Lord.