Jay Minnick has been the Pastor at Pleasant Grove since 1993. Pleasant Grove has been Jay’s first and only pastoral appointment (no one else will take him). Jay and his wife, Allana, have been married for over 30 years, and they have four children; Jonathan, Micah, Harper, and Molly.
Jay grew up in a Methodist parsonage, and as a testament to the Methodist itinerant system he lived in a number of cities and towns across the state of Virginia. He considers Arlington, VA to be his home. Jay attended the College of William & Mary where he received a BS in Biology. He then headed south to the epicenter of college basketball, Duke University. Jay attended Duke Divinity School where he received an MDiv degree; and, while he hates to admit it, Jay did several years of graduate work in Ancient Mediterranean Religions at the light-blue school just south of Durham. His academic interests in biblical languages and the history of the biblical text find expression in his leading of frequent and various classes involving the study of scripture, ancient Judaism, and Church history. Jay is a voracious reader, a lover of college basketball–GO DUKE, an admirer of Thomas Merton, and a life-long learner. He believes strongly in something that he heard the honorable Rev. Dr. Lovett Weems say at a 2013 session of the North Carolina Annual Conference:
“It used to be that a person believed in something–a creed, and then sought out a community of like-minded folks to which they could belong. In recent years that lifecycle has been altered. Now people of faith find a community in which they feel loved and valued and accepted–where they belong, and then together with their new brothers and sisters they seek out understanding.” (Jay’s extremely loose paraphrase)
Jay believes that we all come to the Church as broken individuals, but hopefully in this place we stumble into God’s grace together and there find a renewal of our lives. We don’t have all the answers at Pleasant Grove, but that’s okay. We have each other. We are the body of Christ.
“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29 NRSV)
Director of Worship Arts
Chris has been the Director of Worship Arts at Pleasant Grove since May 2013. He is a native of Bluefield, West Virginia, and has been living in the Raleigh area since 2008. Chris received his undergraduate degree from West Virginia University and his graduate degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Chris has been involved with many local community music ensembles, including the Duke Medicine Orchestra, Triangle Wind Ensemble, Triangle Gay Men’s Chorus, and the City of Oaks Brass Quintet. Chris also teaches piano lessons and is involved with the Raleigh Piano Teachers Association.
In his spare time, you’ll find Chris hiking and running neighborhood trails, watching movies, and reading at any number of local coffee shops. His cats, Goomba and Artemis, keep him from sleeping in on his days off.
Director of Contemporary Worship Arts
Isaac joined the staff as Director of Contemporary Worship Arts in January 2023. He grew up as the son of a United Methodist pastor, and moved all around the western half of North Carolina. He received his undergraduate degree from UNC-Greensboro and master’s degree from Michigan State University. He has often served as a lay delegate and musician for Reconciling Ministries worship at Annual Conference. Isaac is also a freelance orchestral percussionist and adjunct instructor of percussion at UNC-Pembroke.
Director of Children & Youth Ministries
Ashley began as the Volunteer Administrator at Pleasant Grove in October 2014, transitioned into Director of Connecting Ministries in October 2016, and in July 2022 embarked on her new journey as Director of Children & Youth Ministries. A native of Raleigh, Ashley has a B.S.B.A. in Business Management with a minor in Religious Studies from UNC-Charlotte, a Masters in Christian Practice from Duke Divinity School, and spent a year in Louisiana with the Episcopal Service Corps. As hard as she tried to break away from her family's tradition as educators, she couldn't dismiss her love of nurturing young minds!
Deborah began as our Volunteer Coordinator in October 2022. She has been a member at PGUMC for many years and has served our church in a variety of ways as a volunteer, most recently as Lay Leader. Deborah brings not only her knowledge of PGUMC but also extensive managerial experience to her role at Pleasant Grove. Deborah was commissioned as a Certified Lay Minister in June 2023.
Jill officially began as the Accompanist at Pleasant Grove on July 1, 2013. She grew up in Cary, NC and currently resides in Durham. She graduated with her bachelor and master degrees in music education from UNC-Greensboro. Jill served as the interim music director from January 2013 until Chris Dodson began in May 2013. Jill is also the chorus teacher at Riverside High School in Durham. Jill and her husband Mark have a daughter, Josephine (Joey) Renee, one dog, Lillian Virginia, and a cat, Heathcliff. She loves going to the beach, reading and going to concerts. She is an avid fan of DPAC (Durham Performing Arts Center) and the Duke Blue Devils!
William Holley joined the staff as our Media Specialist in April of 2021. William's role is to develop and provide comprehensive media support for church services and events.
William is currently with the Durham Public School System as a Theatre Specialist at Riverside High School. He has extensive experience in all areas of audio/visual management, coordinating support teams, and organization. In addition, William has worked with other churches in our area in media operations.
Julie has been the Office Administrator at Pleasant Grove since March 2005. She is a native of Durham, NC and a graduate of Elon University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. She is married to Stephen Lebria and they have two grown children, Gordon & Elizabeth. Julie enjoys hiking, listening to music, reading, yoga, UNC basketball, and spending time with her family.
Warren officially began as custodian on December 2, 2013. Warren is a Raleigh native and graduated from Broughton High School and attended NC State. He enjoys keeping our church clean and performing general maintenance on the buildings. Warren and his wife Nikki were married in April 2002. He loves college football and basketball. In his spare time he enjoys going to the beach, doing yardwork and grilling out.