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 25 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 loves the way church member and resident sage Scott Hanson once issued an invitation to the community called Pleasant Grove, “You have questions. We have coffee.” 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)
Rev. Carol Van Buskirk is a United Methodist deacon with a passion for worship arts and children’s ministries. She holds a B.A. in music and an M.A. in theology, and has 14 years experience in local church ministry in California and Massachusetts. Carol just moved to Raleigh with her theologian/drummer husband, Greg, aspiring astronaut daughter, Eleanor, and mellow mutt, Moose. They are excited to become part of the Pleasant Grove family and work creatively with the leadership team to inspire new ways of being the body of Christ in the world.
Minister of Non-Traditional Worship
CAROL VAN BUSKIRK
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 Worship Arts
Ashley began as the Volunteer Administrator at Pleasant Grove in October 2014 and transitioned into Director of Connecting Ministries in October 2016. A native of Raleigh, Ashley has a B.S.B.A. in Business Management with a minor in Religious Studies from UNC-Charlotte. Prior to returning home, she spent a year in Louisiana with the Episcopal Service Corps. According to Jay, Ashley has no other interests and is available day or night if you need anything!
Director of Connecting Ministries
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!
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 children, Gordon & Elizabeth. Julie enjoys hiking, listening to music, reading, yoga, UNC basketball, and spending time with her family.
Cathy has been a member of Pleasant Grove UMC since 1998 and became the Preschool Director in August 2005. She is a native of Akron, Ohio and graduated from the University of Akron with a degree in Child Development. She and her husband Wes have a son, Cory, a daughter Sarah, and two grandsons Thomas and C.J. She loves spending time with her grandsons, going to the beach, quilting, and anything chocolate!
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.
Arya has been a faithful part of Pleasant Grove's congregation since 2012. He was hired in 2015 as our weekend custodian and has been a vital part of our staff.