The history of Pleasant Ridge Presbyterian Church is an on-going one that began one day in 1885. It is the first, and to date, only Presbyterian Church established by Blacks in Lancaster County.
Among the founding fathers were F.R. Massey, Henry McIlwain and Leonard McMullen. They were some of the first trustees, according to church records. After the church was organized in the last quarter of the 19th century, a tract of land, 60X90 feet, was purchased from Mrs. Jane Price on West Barr Street between Main and Catawba Streets. Seven years after founding, the organizers built the first frame church on the south side of Barr facing north.
The first pastor was the Rev. T.A. Nance, and in succeeding order were the Reverends N.N. Gregg and J.A. Tillman. The Rev. Tillman served as pastor for eighteen years, 1906-1925.
On March 28, 1891, the members petitioned the County of Lancaster for a charter. The application appeared in the Lancaster Review, April 1, 1891. It was signed by J.C. Dixon, F.R. Massey, I.C. McKenna and others, four of whom were women.
The membership grew and the church prospered. Strong dedicated leaders developed under seminary trained ministers. Officers (1891-1913) were Calvin Dixon, Elder; F.R. Massey, I.C. McKenna, and Henry McIlwain, Deacons; and F.R. Massey and Henry McIlwain, Trustees. In 1914, the following officers were installed: Elders- -Fred L. Clinton, Paul Boykin and Elijah Merritt; Trustees- -Fred L. Clinton, William Boykin, Elijah Meritt, Leonard McMullen and Alphonza Davis; Deacons- -Walter Duncan, Willie Boykin, John Smith and Leonard McMullen. In the late teens (circa 1916-1919) were Elders- -Harvey Crawford, Abe Cunningham and Louis Funderburk. Among the Elders in the 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s were Earl Babridge and James H. McMullen. In 1960, Mrs. Mattye Babridge became the first woman Elder.
In 1922 the church was moved 1 ½ blocks away to a new site on North French Street. The tract of land, purchased for re-location, was 210X220 feet. The church deteriorated over the years. It was decided to build again rather than renovate, because there was a need for church area parking, which the site could not provide. Eventually, the building became unsafe to occupy and was condemned. Elder James F. McMullen offered the use of his mortuary chapel. His generous offer was accepted and services were held there – -gratis – -until the present church was erected and tenable – a period of 6+ years. On June 14, 1987 the existing church located at 912 Clinton Avenue Extension, was dedicated with proper pomp and circumstance. On June 28, 1987, the Honorable Senator T. Caldwell “Red” Hinson visited at the eleven o’clock service to present proclamations from the South Carolina Senate for the notable achievement of building a debt-free church.
(Excerpted from Pleasant Ridge Presbyterian Church History written by Elder Marjorie McMurray)