The first meetings were held in the Hillsdale train depot in 1873 ...
Hillsdale Methodists began holding regular Sunday morning services in the railroad director's room on the second floor of the depot on December 24, 1873. Good preachers were engaged and an organ obtained to aid in the singing. The following February, a 'Grand Concert" was given by friends in the depot meeting room for the benefit of the church group, at which about $200.00 was raised. The Hillsdale United Methodist Church was formally organized by the society on Sunday, May 3, 1874 under the name 'Hillsdale Methodist Episcopal Church' by the Rev. John E. Switzer of Allendale. Those serving on the first official board were Isaac I. Cole, Abraham A. Post, Simon Mead, James S. Ruckman, James J. Monfort, Robert Boyd, Abraham A. Hopper and Charles Marsh.
The First regular pastor was the Rev. Elam M. Garton who was appointed in 1875. A joint pastorate was maintained with Park Ridge until 1876; and with Middletown (Pearl River), until 1899. The original church was built in 1876 on a plot of land at the southwest intersection of Hillsdale and Magnolia Avenues donated by David P. Patterson. The first parsonage, was located at 355 Hillsdale Avenue, was built in 1884 and served as the residence of the pastors until the present parsonage at 339 Hillsdale Avenue was acquired in 1955.
The old church, built in the Victorian style of that period, was enlarged in 1911 and later modernized. The church consisted of a rectangular shaped sanctuary, about 30 by 30 feet in size, with a square entrance vestibule and belfry at the northwest corner. The first seats were wooden pews which seated four. The pews were all detached and could be rearranged and grouped for Church School classes, and removed entirely when the auditorium was used for suppers and fairs.Heat was supplied by a hot air furnace, and light from kerosene lamps set in wall brackets. In September of 1889, the first bell was purchased for $120.00 provided by private subscriptions. When it was rung for the first time on Tuesday, September 17, 1889, it could be heard a mile away. It was described as having a remarkably mellow and deep tone for its size. (That bell hangs in the front of our church today.) Horse sheds were erected at the southwest part of the plot, facing to the east, to which a carriage drive led from Hillsdale Avenue. A frame privy stood near the south side of the church.
The final service held in the old church was Good Friday, April 8th, 1955. The first service in our current sanctuary, located across the street, was held a few days later on Easter Sunday, April 10th.
The old church building was sold in 1961 to the Fulton Temple Association. But before the deal was completed, the building was damaged by fire. As a result, the building was razed, the church maintained ownership of the property as the new parking lot.
The new building was subsequently enlarged by the addition of an auditorium and church school facilities in 1960, and by a further educational area in 1967.
Our Donor Recognition Tree
For those who would like to make a special monetary gift to the church and be recognized, or recognize a loved one, on the donor memorial tree, print and fill out the Donor Recognition Tree Gift Form and make your gift payable to Hillsdale United Methodist Church with "donor memorial tree" in the memo. This is a significant way to support the legacy of our church, while looking forward to future ministry.
Ministers of the Hillsdale United Methodist Church
1875-1899 Elam M. Garton
1889-1902 Lewis T. James
1902-1909 Gardner Howland
1909-1911 Davis W. Clark Ramsey
1911-1915 William Burd
1915-1919 Joseph A. Heard
1919-1922 George Okeson
1922-1927 Charles S. Hunt
1927-1932 Harold N. Smith
1932-1939 Thomas D. Walker
1939-1941 Earl L. Hampton
1941-1946 Joseph D. Short
1946-1946 Archey Decatur Ball
1946-1950 Carl J. Conrad
1949-1950 Richard C. Swift
1950-1950 James Purman Shook
1950-1957 George F. Jackson
1957-1963 John R. Dexheimer
1963-1971 Robert J. Payne
1971-1975 Lawrence Richards II
1975-1981 Robert L. Gue
1981-1987 Barrie T. Smith
1987-1992 C. David Follansbee
1992-2001 Robert E. Davidson
2001-2007 Mark H. Earl
2007-2012 Frank W. Kowar
2012-Present Pastor Brian Neville
"After graduating from Palmer and finishing three years of ministry as an Associate Pastor, I came to Hillsdale United Methodist Church in July of 2012. Along with moving to a new church, God also brought another big change with the birth of my first child, David Wesley. Emily and I are so excited for this new stage in life! The church has been a huge blessing to us as we work together to uncover the direction God would have all of us go.
As the pastor, I want to encourage others to draw closer to an ever-loving God. Every day is an opportunity to experience God's love and grace again. I invite you to come and join us in worship on a Sunday and meet with me in person.
You can also follow me on my blog at hillsdaleumc.blogspot.com. "