Pleasant Hill Christian Church was started as a Baptist Church in 1842. Two of the first elders were Robert P. Gentry and Ignatis O. Daniels, then 33 years later (1875), our present church started as a Christian church by Samuel Levan(great grandfather of Robert Levan). Services were held in Samuel Levan's home, which is where Herman Reiman now lives.
Although the only way of getting to church was to walk, ride horseback or drive a team, the church attendance increased, until the house was too small to hold the large number of people attending, so the services were then held in the barn. It was then the members decided to build a church. The building was started in 1876, where the present church now stands. The land was donated by Samuel Levan. In the new church, there was no baptistery, piano or organ. The only conveniences they had were coal oil lamps and a small stove.
Harman Husband was one of the first preachers in the new church. He was a Christian preacher, therefore making it a Christian Church. Other preachers were, Gilbert Jones Street and David Husband, son of Harman Husband. David Husband, an evangelist, baptized Sam Thompson, Claud Thompson's father. Another minister in the church was Tom Hallinand, who baptized Ada Bryant in 1894(John Bryant Jr.'s mother). Everyone became tired of going to the creek or a pond for a baptismal service, so it was decided a new church was to be built, so they could have a baptistery. The present church foundation and farm were started in 1895. This date is on the south west corner rock. The timber was cut from A. J. Reiman's farm and hauled to the Underwood saw mill. The timber, hauling, and labor to construct the present building was all donated. With no modern devices such as chain saws, tractors or log trucks, this was quite a neighborhood accomplishment.
The new church dedication services were handled by the evangelist, David Husband and they say, "What a Gospel preacher he was, with his Bible charts and drawings". The new church had two conveniences over the old one, an organ and a baptistery. The first person to be baptized in the new baptistery was May Holiday.
At the time of the new church dedication, Harmon Graff was church secretary and at the services he read a history of the old church. Memory recalls, that it was a very colorful story and one memorable event was about some hogs. The church was built up off the ground and was not closed in. there were no stock laws and some hogs bedded down under the church for the night. During the evening service, the hogs got to fighting and squealing so loudly, the service had to be stopped. Some of the members chased them from under the building and the service continued.
Some of the preachers in the new church were J. J. Harris, Brother Ostein and L. A. Chapman. October 11028, 1903, Gilbert Jones Street held a meeting, in which 13 people were baptized, and he was paid $48.00. December 3-11, 1904, a revival was held by J. G. Roberts, he was paid $28.00 and there were no additions. January 17, 1909, J. J. Harris held a meeting for two weeks, baptizing 14 people. He then preached for three months, being paid the sum of $105.00. No records were recorded until May 7, 1916, when J. J. Harris came to preach. According to records, he baptized 15 people. L. A. Chapman of Murphysboro held a meeting November 7-24, 1921, with 13 baptisms. April 2, 1922, W. H. Wager preached two sermons, for which he was paid $25.00, then held a revival April 3-8, 1922, for free will offering. Through the month of January 1923, Elder T. Boyd preached. H. D. Solomon started preaching April 1, 1923 and preached the remainder of the year and was paid $25.00 a trip. C. Herschel started preaching June 22, 1924; no records found when he resigned. A meeting was held by H. H. Temple November 4, 1934; there were 18 baptisms, 3 by statements. Going through some of the old records, I found the collection on October 17, 1897, was 2 cents and on October 24, 1897, the collection was 8 cents. Ada Reiman was secretary.
Along about 1918-1920, a car or two began to make appearances, but many still walked, drove a team or rode horseback to church. As time went on, no regular services were held for quite a few years. At times a preacher would come and hold services, among them were Bill Smothers, from Marion and a man named Holt, from Murphysboro, but things still slowed down to almost a dead halt.
On the second Sunday in August 1938, there came a man to preach the Gospel, whose name was Hosea Borum of Marion, Illinois. Now folks, let your minds go back 37 years. At that time there were no blacktop roads, the church had no electric lights, just kerosene lamps; no furnace, air conditioning or any other conveniences. If it rained, you had mud roads and in the winter the church was heated by a coal stove. In front of the church you were hot and in the back of the church you were cold.
The first Sunday Brother Borum preached, there were 17 present. During the 27 years he preached, there were a lot of changes, blacktop roads, electric lights, a furnace and re-molded baptistery. Attendance increased immensely. In the years he was there, he baptized 199 people, married 37 couples and did 42 funerals. On Sunday October 23, 1938, Brother Borum was made happy, as 10 people came forward. At the close of the revival held October 19-28, 1952, by Brother Sidwell, there were 6 more additions. The first funeral was Mrs. Lenora (Levan) Harrouff, June 2, 1939. The first marriage was Carl Imhoff and Margie Alley, June 27, 1942. Brother Borum preached here from August 1938 to February 22, 1965, when he died. During the time he was here, the basement was put under the church and a coal furnace was installed, so all could be kept warm. The coal furnace was replaced by oil a few years later and the bathrooms were added. After the passing of Brother Borum, Gilbert Daniels came on April 18, 1965. His first sermon was Easter Sunday. New siding was added during this time and really improved the look of the church. Gilbert resigned to take a job teaching at Trico High School. Morris Burkett from Norris City, came September 17, 1967, to replace Gilbert. While Morris was at Pleasant Hill, we celebrated our Centennial March 2, 1975 and a very large crowd was present. New pews and carpet were added October 1968. Burkett resigned in December 1968.
Gilbert Daniels came back in March 1969. Then in May 1970, Gilbert resigned to move back to Georgia. Royce Wood from Oklahoma, came here on June 28, 1970. New classrooms and a nursery were added in 1974. Royce Wood resigned on August 4, 1975 and went to Mississippi. Jack Stevens came on October 26, 1975, from Piedmont, Missouri. A double wide mobile home was purchased for the minister and his wife to live in. Jack resigned on August 4, 1978 and moved to Witt, Illinois. Ron Hall preached August 20 and 27, 1978; he was from Brownstown, Illinois. Sunday September 3, 1978, Hansel Morris filled the pulpit. On September 17, 1978, Berry Morris was hired from St. Genevieve, Missouri. He preached until July, 1979. Kurt Jensen came to minister from August 26, 1979 and preached through April 4, 1982. Derrick Miller was hired June 27, 1982 and preached through November 4, 1984.
On January 6, 1985, Tom Webb was hired as minister. He served through May 14, 1989. During this time new song books were purchased, new siding put on the church, new carpet and the interior was painted. On April 20, 1987, 5 acres were purchased west of the church, with the intention of building a new parsonage. On Sunday September 18, 1988, at 2:00pm, a ground breaking took place and on November 5, 1988, the parsonage was started. On February 26, 1989, an open house was held to dedicate the parsonage. On August 6, 1989, Pat Otero was hired as minister and remained until May 1992. Jack Davis began his ministry here on June 28, 1992. On August 1, 1992, work was begun to build a Fellowship Hall. The plans were for the building to be 36x76, with a large kitchen, storage area and two bathrooms. Many hours of hard work and sweat were put in, but it was all worthwhile. On September 5th, only 5 weeks after the building was started, we served our sixth annual BBQ and Ice Cream supper in it, with lots of room to spare. Everyone enjoyed the fellowship as we ate and were entertained by music supplied by Mary Davis (preacher's wife) and her electric keyboard.
On September 19, 1992, the church entered a float in the Apple Festival Parade, depicting the animals of Noah's Ark. We are proud to say that the float brought 2nd place.
As we see our church has come a long way in the past 150 years. We should thank God for our ancestors, who started our church body here at Pleasant Hill.
Contributed by Jane Layne