On September 19, 1957, a band of Christian believers met at 162 Seymour Avenue, Newark, NJ. Those in attendance included Reverend Eljay (Jerry) and First Lady Ethella Valentine, Mr. and Mrs. Richard Dickson, Mrs. Carolyn Hillsman, Mr. Louis Blue, Mr. and Mrs. Abraham Gilliam. After much discussion, the name, “PLEASANT GROVE BAPTIST CHURCH” evolved. The first service was held, on the 4th Sunday in October, 1957 at 213 Court Street.
In November 1957, a family crisis forced Reverend Valentine to return to Cleveland, Ohio. Reverend Valentine passed the mantle of leadership making Reverend William J. Harris.
Our Journey moved us to our second place of worship, 13 16th Avenue, and, as the church took grew spiritually and financially, our Pastor, was led to direct us our present location 198 Chadwick Avenue. In 1974 the church was extensively destroyed by fire. However, under the watchful eye of Pastor Harris and the leading of the Holy Spirit, we were able to rebuild.
On November 4, 1998 the Pleasant Grove family endured a devastating lost, with the sun setting of the beloved Pastor William James Harris.
Reverend O. Rodney Brooks was elected as Pastor on August 16, 2000. Under his leadership God blessed this branch of Zion with many disciples. A new discipleship class was implemented. Rev Brooks shared the word through preaching, teaching and in song to the glory of God and the edification of God’s people.
He encouraged the youths and young adults to praise the Lord in their own way. He let them know that they are not just the Church of tomorrow but they are the Church of today. Leading them to take their rightful place, he started the Young Adult Ministry which continues to flourish. Reverend Brooks served until May 2004.
Reverend Rouse was called to the Pastorate of the Pleasant Grove Baptist Church in August of 2006. With an uncompromising vision and mandate from God for God’s people, he has been building and developing a family-friendly Church in the heart of the community, ministering to the total person through word, witness, worship and work. He constantly reinforces to God’s people that “everybody is somebody and Jesus is everything.” He has a profound faith in God as the ultimate provider and sustainer. Pastor Rouse is blessed with wisdom beyond his age to deal with various issues applying practical solutions.
Under the Leadership of Pastor Rouse Pleasant Grove has experienced tremendous growth spiritually, numerically and financially. God has blessed this ministry through this visionarian to accomplish things such a: the formation of the Sanctuary Choir, reorganizing of the Male Chorus, the Golden Age Ministry, Helping Hands Ministry, the Food and Clothing Ministry, revamping of the Christian Education Department, the formation of The Pleasant Grove Community Development Corporation and Building Fund Ministry. The church has also purchased property to expand the ministry “The House of Hope” and also acquired more space for parking.
Also under his Leadership, three ministers were licensed to preach and five men ordained to the office of Deacon. He takes joy in being the Pastor of the world renowned Dr. Albert J Lewis and Dr. William A. Sciafe.
Pastor Rouse also served as the President of the Clinton Hill Churches United organization in Newark. Pastor Rouse and the Pleasant Grove Church is a part of the North Jersey Missionary Baptist Association where the Rev. Dr. Lester Taylor is Moderator.
Pastor Rouse has received numerous awards for his dedication to the community and believes in building a ministry of loving, learning, and liberation.
Pastor Rouse and his wife Reverend Natasha Rouse are an anointed team that God is using to move the Church and the community through the stages of development to becoming a strong family. Their children Cameron, Vincent Jr. and Victoria complete the Rouse clan.