When Pleasant Grove Baptist Church unveils its new, modern, spacious sanctuary on Sunday, it will be the first time in more than a century that its congregation will gather in a different worship space.
Pleasant Grove, a Sorgho community landmark, sits on Kentucky 56 and has been utilizing the same 300-seat sanctuary since 1908. And plans are for it to remain but it will have a different function, which has yet to be determined.
For David Rodgers, Pleasant Grove’s music and children’s pastor, there is an excitement about the move but not without being mindful of the church’s spiritual legacy that dates back to 1835.
“It was super important not to lose our identity,” Rodgers said. “So we realize that we’re located here on the outskirts of Owensboro — a rural farm community. …So to build this, we wanted who we are to continue … we didn’t want to come in and say, ‘Out with the old and in with the new.’ ”
The new 600-seat sanctuary, which is double the size of the old one, has been years in the making.
In 2004, Pleasant Grove purchased the old Sorgho Elementary School building next door, which houses the church’s day care, and children and youth ministries.
However, Pleasant Grove didn’t own the property between the two buildings when the church began seven years ago to seriously pursue a new sanctuary.
Stuart Snow, chairman of Pleasant Grove’s building committee, said the building-site changed multiple times before ending up in the ideal spot.
“During all of this, we acquired this middle property, which allowed us to get back to the drawing board and get back to the long-term vision of one day having all of our buildings connected,” Snow said.
Along with a sanctuary, the project grew with the additions of offices, classrooms, sizable lobby area, bathrooms and more parking.
“The necessity was to have a building that could hold 500-plus people with a good welcome center and bathrooms to support it,” Snow said.
Lenae Bell, Pleasant Grove’s director of children’s ministries, said having the extra classroom space is special because more age groups can now be accommodated.
“We’ll be able to expand our children’s church,” Bell said. “We were just offering it for kindergarten down. With the addition of these classes, we’re able to add first and second grades and then divide that into smaller groups.”
With the completion of the new building and sanctuary behind Pleasant Grove, the next step will be hiring a new lead pastor.
The Rev. Jerry Tooley, former director of the Daviess-McLean Baptist Association, is currently serving as Pleasant Grove’s interim pastor.
Bell said Pleasant Grove’s growth hasn’t suffered despite not having a lead pastor.
“Our people have been very understanding about the process; they’re excited to see how God’s moving in our congregation,” Bell said. “We’re still seeing people come to know the Lord; we’re still seeing baptisms; we’re still seeing our outreach in the community and our missions grow. And that’s really unusual without a senior pastor.”
Sunday’s opening service will start at 10:30 a.m., with Sunday school beginning at 9:15 a.m. and will remain the times for the foreseeable future.
Rodgers said Sunday will be a celebration of the past and future of Pleasant Grove.
“What we see here is really a byproduct of the faithfulness of those who have come before us,” Rodgers said. “We realize that we’re planting seeds that somebody else is going to harvest down the road. This is all about equipping and empowering the next generation — those who come behind us to fulfill the purpose of the church.”
Don Wilkins, email@example.com, 270-691-7299