The Whole Church, Taking The Whole Gospel, To the Whole World
Pleasant View Baptist Church was founded around 1900. People who were children at the time provided the only information available. After weighing all the facts, it is agreed that the Reverend Willie Minor and the Reverend Elijah P. Marrs, in a small house in the 3800 block of Bohne Street where the Southwick Housing Project was situated, founded the church before 1904. From its origin the congregation was under two pastors, the Reverend Willie Minor and the Reverend Tommie J. Lewis, and the tenure of their pastorate is unknown.
In this very small house, probably donated by one of its charter members for a prayer service and Bible class, these few people were about doing God’s work in this settlement known to them as the “New Additions.” Along with her sister church, Marrs Memorial Baptist Church, now at Cecil and Dumesnil, they were the only two churches in this vast area from Woodland Street, South and 32nd Street, West. Though unorganized, they continued to grow under the pastorship of the Reverend Charles Jacob, who lived on Bohne Street. In the same year, or before 1913, it was officially organized.
The deed for the first property showed that it was purchased from George W. and Amanda E. Grant, on November 7, 1913. On June 23, 1915, the first church building was erected in the 3500 block of Southern Avenue.
Because of failing eyesight and advanced years, Jacob resigned as pastor in 1919. Soon afterwards, the church called the Reverend William T. Ratliffe from Alabama to pastor Pleasant View.
Mr. Ratliffe was a very talented and well educated man both in ministry and music. It was under his pastorate that the first Boy Scout Troop (#38) was instituted. Mr. Ratcliffe was a staunch supporter of Simmons University and the Louisville Leader (the only African-American newspaper at this time). He solicited financial support for the university and sold subscriptions to the newspaper for the betterment of the community. During the time Mr. Ratcliffe labored with them, he founded the Ratliffe Bible Institute in the 1300 block of Broadway, and in 1923 he resigned as pastor of Pleasant View to devote himself fully to this endeavor. The church then called the Reverend R. L. Rhodes of New Albany, Indiana, and he served as pastor until 1924.
Then the church called the Reverend H. A. Scott, a student at Simmons University and a pastor at Pee Wee Valley, Kentucky, in 1924. However, in 1949, he left Pleasant View and organized Scott’s Golden Temple located in the 1300 block of Southern Avenue.
Between pastors Jacob and Scott, there is a name that has not been mentioned, the Reverend Luke Coffee. Coffee served this church in the following ways when the congregation was without a pastor: interim pastor, assistant pastor, Sunday school superintendent, Sunday school teacher, first scoutmaster, president of the Baptist Young People’s Union (also known as Baptist Training Union or B.T.U.), and occasionally as janitor. There are many testimonies as to the noble character, preacher, and Christian this man was. He was always present, he would work anywhere he was needed, and he lived a devoted life to building of the Kingdom.
In the fall of 1949 the church called the Reverend R. H. Talley, and he served throughout the year of 1950.
The Reverend O. D. Jackson was called from Commerce, Georgia, in April 1951. The first six years of his pastorate were steady and routine. Then, in 1957, the church was informed that they would have to either sell the church or move to make way for Southwick School. The following five years were wearisome for the congregation and pastor. They knew that urban renewal was going to buy property in the area, but the most desirable spots for relocation were out of reach financially for the church. To them, Southern Avenue looked like the Jordan River did to the children of Israel. During this five-year period, they could see the clouds by day and the pillars of fire by night, but they had the assurance of God’s presence.
The son of one of their senior members, Mr. John Saunders, informed the deacons and trustees that he would sell part of his land so they would have a plot for the church. Through the help of Mr. Saunders, they met the requirements for land space, and they felt assured that this would be their home for many years. Because the community around them was growing, they considered expansion and had acquired enough land on which to expand. They moved directly in front of the location where the church had been situated from 1915 to 1957. However, they were dealing with the City of Louisville, and despite all the improvements they had made, none of them met the requirements for urban renewal. Before the church edifice had a chance to rest on its new foundation, it had to be sold.
After many disappointments, it was a joyous occasion when the trustees informed the congregation that they had secured a site at 1310 Catalpa Street. The contract was closed on moving day, Sunday, May 7, 1961. They opened their worship service as usual at the Southern Avenue site, and closed it at the Catalpa Street location. They moved forward and planned their route all the way through 36th Street to Dumesnil Street and from Dumesnil Street east to Catalpa Street for the motorcade. However, because of heavy rain they had to take Southern Avenue, which was partially covered at 34th Street. That day may have reminded one of the crossings of Jordan. Nevertheless, they made it through.
In January 1968 the Lord called Pastor O. D. Jackson from labor to reward. Then in June 1968 the church called the Reverend J. C. Pyles Sr. to pastor Pleasant View, and he was a very talented and educated man in ministry and music.
Under his leadership the church experienced its largest increase in congregation, and there was a need for a larger edifice. In May 1971 the church moved to 2600 Virginia Avenue. After 28 years of service, the Lord called Pastor Pyles home to rest.
In October 1997 the church called the Reverend Bruce J. Shaw Sr. to pastor the congregation. Although the biggest task is still ahead of us, this congregation’s Canaan is not too far out of sight. Pleasant View exists today because the people of God were determined, generous, faithful, and dedicated to God.