Meet The Pastor

Head Pastor Reverend JA Couthbertson
J.A. Cuthbertson has officiated 239 marriages, and so many funerals and baptisms he can’t count them all. In the pastor’s study at Pleasant Hill Baptist Church hangs photographs from weddings he’s performed, along with graduation announcements and births. A lot of those babies up there now have their own babies,” Cuthbertson, 76, said. “I have so many photos that some of them are in a box and can’t fit on the wall.” Cuthbertson’s Sundays are for pastoring; Saturdays for funerals and weddings, and weekdays for visiting the sick and shut-ins. Thursdays are his day off, which he spends tending to his garden at home. Cuthbertson has been pastor at Pleasant Hill for 41 years. His congregation is honoring him with a service at 3 p.m. Sept. 25. The Rev. Burrell Brooks from St. John’s Baptist in Statesville is the guest speaker. “It’s been a blessing and a privilege to be here for 41 years,” Cuthbertson said. “I’ve tried to make this the friendliest church in the city of Charlotte and I’m still working on that.” Myron Patton is a third generation member at Pleasant Hill. His grandmother and parents attended the church. Patton married his wife Sylvia at Pleasant Hill and his two children were baptized there. “I was baptized here at age 7, but I was here prior to then,” Patton, 50, said. “I’ve been a member for 43 years. Pastor Cuthbertson came here a year or two after I was baptized.” Patton has seen a new edifice built, as well as the development of an education department and Family Life Center all under Cuthbertson’s leadership. “Cuthbertson is a God-fearing man and he really exemplifies what a pastor should be,” Patton said. “He has integrity that is just second to none.” Jo Evelyn Liggett has attended Pleasant Hill since 1956. “I’ve been here over 50 years, I joined the church when I moved to Charlotte from Tennessee,” 80 year-old Liggett, also known as the mother of the church, said. “(Cuthbertson) is a wonderful man. He’s a family man. I never get tired of him and I enjoy his fellowship and sermons.” Cuthbertson always wanted to be a pastor – not a preacher. Raised a Presbyterian and baptized at Pleasant Hill, Cuthbertson’s first pastoral assignment was at a church in Harmony, N.C., in 1965. He lived 52 miles away and commuted every Sunday. “I could preach, but not pastor to those people,” Cuthbertson recalls. “When I got through with preaching on Sunday I was tired and wanted to go home. I couldn’t make the activities during the week because I was so far away.” Then the opportunity arose to pastor at Pleasant Hill. was in my 30s when I came to this church,” Cuthbertson said. “I came here in 1970.” Cuthbertson is one of Charlotte’s longest-tenured reverends at one church. Wardell Henderson Jr. has been pastor of Weeping Willow AME Zion on Milton Road for 40 years and the Rev. Levi Wilson at Friendship Primitive Baptist Church on Kennesaw Drive has been at his charge for 43 years. “Cuthbertson has been around for a long time,” Wilson, 82, said. “We’ve been pastors since around the same time. He is one of the greatest black preachers in Charlotte and I’ll tell anybody that.” Wilson refers to Cuthbertson as a dear friend. “(Cuthbertson) will reach out to help anybody and everybody,” Wilson added. “You will never find no trash on Cuthbertson.” Lincoln Lee, pastor of Silver Mount Baptist Church, has known Cuthbertson for 44 years. Cuthbertson and Lee’s late father William were good friends. “We see each other at least twice a week and we speak on the phone every day,” Lee said. “He is a loving, giving pastor.” Lee, says Cuthbertson, is an old-school style pastor. “(Cuthbertson) is known for visiting the sick and shut-in,” Lee said. “He goes to the hospital to check in on members, friends and family at least twice a week. I was weak in that aspect, but by hanging out with (Cuthbertson) I now visit the sick in shut-in also.” Cuthbertson said his congregation can call on him day or night. He has an open door policy. No appointments are necessary. “When you have sick people, they want to see their pastor and not anybody else,” Cuthbertson said. “When the church gets too large, you can’t do that.” Thomas Robinson, chairman of Pleasant Hill Baptist’s board of trustees, started attending in 1990, but didn’t officially join the church until 10 years ago. “I admire (Cuthbertson) in a lot of aspects,” Robinson said. “He has a lot of good qualities as far as his leadership ability and overall he is a good people person and problem solver.” In four decades, Cuthbertson has seen a lot from the pulpit. He’s buried deacons and members of his congregation, and he’s seen his church, as well as Charlotte, go through major changes. “There used to be houses all around this church,” Cuthbertson said. “There used to be a cow pasture down the street, but now it’s a mini-mall...the whole neighborhood has changed.” One thing that will never change is Cuthbertson’s love for the Lord. “I really don’t know what made me become a preacher, I just did it,” he said. “I’ll maybe retire from pastoring one day, but not from preaching. I’ll be here as long as my health is still good.”