Pleasant Hill Baptist Church was founded with six members in the year 1925. However, by the year 1943, the membership roll included over 2,700 names and this great body of believers constructed the largest church facility for Negroes in the South. Who were those pioneers who made such an impact that hundreds of others were compelled to join them?
This story must begin with the presentation of the Reverend Lee Hayward Simpson, DD, who was called to be Pastor in 1925 by the founding members. Reverend Simpson had been called to preach only two years prior and was ordained only one year before he started to Pastor the six founding members of this great congregation. He was the “Clever Leader” and visionary for the amazing growth, development, evangelism, education, cultural and social influence that Pleasant Hill had on the City of Houston and the Fifth Ward Community, in particular, from 1925 until the latter part of the 1960's.
Reverend Simpson challenged the people of Pleasant Hill to trust in God and walk by faith to achievements unheard of by a traditional Negro church. Achievements such as selling bonds to members during a national economic depression and paying for building materials to build a new Sanctuary on a 30-day cash basis. His vision included ministries such as academic education supported by a church congregation, a business league, and a senior housing facility. He was more than just a Preacher/Pastor; he was a builder, a champion for social justice, and a businessman. He organized a team of architects which included a sanctuary, educational building, gymnasium, cafeteria, and auditorium. Many members of the church became homeowners as a result of Simpson’s vision to purchase land around the church and sell it to the membership.