Located in a nondescript commercial building at 7455 Eigleberry St. is Gilroy’s Pleasant Valley Church. The facility’s modest exterior masks an amazing facility that allows the congregation to offer a wide variety of ministries to the community.
Paul Carrasco grew up in an unchurched family living in Santa Barbara. In 1980, at 18 years old, he accepted a friend’s invitation to a worship service, was captivated by the message of the Gospel and baptized that very day. He became an active Christian in his church.
Ten years later Carrasco felt God calling him to enter the ministry, and he began preparing himself through the study and interview process required by the United Pentecostal Church. In 1993 he was awarded a license, and three years later he was ordained a minister.
In 1998, he was serving a church in Ventura. While returning from a visit to Northern California, he was parked at the Taco Bell on 10th Street in Gilroy and suddenly felt God calling him to start a church in Gilroy. He moved his whole family to the Garlic Capital of the world soon after.
While following a secular career as a cabinetmaker, Carrasco began holding a weekly Bible study in his living room. Attendance grew, and he was able to rent space on the ground floor of Gilroy’s Odd Fellows Building in 2001. Over time they rented more space to accommodate more worshippers; now the church occupies both floors of the building.
The facility offers many amenities, like a commercial kitchen and large dining room, plus rooms for worship services, offices, classrooms and a nursery. The schedule is as follows:
– Sunday at 10 a.m.: Kid Time (Sunday School)
– Sunday at 11 a.m.: Worship
– Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.: Inside Out (youth group)
In addition, the church offers a number of community groups that meet in members’ homes the first three Fridays of each month. These are fellowship-oriented sessions that feature Bible study along with sharing food. Pastor Carrasco points out that this was the pattern of the New Testament Christians long before worship was moved into dedicated buildings. On Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., there is a College and Career Group that follows the same format, also meeting in homes.
Pastor Carrasco says that the church’s mission is “to bring a generation to a life of transformation,” remarking that Pleasant Valley is “a great place for starting over.” He has “a heart for families” and the church “offers help in different ways to assist them in being successful.”
He and his wife, Priscilla, “love Gilroy. The climate is great, and it’s the perfect-sized town. Also, it’s only a short drive to the coast.”
As the congregation continues to grow, Carrasco hopes to devote more time to his ministry, allowing the church to become more active in the community through sponsoring more youth, educational and charitable events.
Pleasant Valley Church is affiliated with the United Pentecostal Church, a denomination of some 4,300 churches and 9,100 ministers throughout the United States and Canada. Based in Hazelwood, Mo., it has 2.2 million members in the United States and sponsors 748 missionaries. For more information, call (408) 842-1320.