Hillsdale Presbyterian 1851-2022

This blog was created for an outreach for St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Hillsdale, Ontario. It was the 1st church established in Hillsdale in 1851. It was the longest continuously running institution in the village, followed by the post office, which was established in 1867. The original church was a log building erected on the north-east corner of the cemetery found on Highway 93 just south of the village. It did not take long for the congregation to outgrow the building and a second church was built in 1867 across the road from the cemetery.

Picture of the church found on a historical information sign found at the community park.

Our church goes back a long time. Picture on top left is Rev. John Grey, who founded the church in 1851.

The current church was built further north within the village at the location of 6 Mill Street West. It was constructed in 1896 for $6,045. The bell was installed in 1905 and an organ was purchased in 1910. For generations it has been a vibrant meeting place of worship and connecting the community of Hillsdale together. The church is God’s idea. It is about building relationships with one another and with God. God designed us to enjoy fulfillment in a close relationship with Him, which come through faith in Jesus.  He promises to give direction, provide wisdom and fill our hearts with love. We access His limitless supply by looking up to Him in simple trust and a willingness to follow His Word. Since 1851 the church at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church, Hillsdale has been an instrument of growing the faith of the community of believers. And to reach out into a hurting world.

Stained glass windows, Hillsdale Presbyterian Church

Stained glass windows, Hillsdale Presbyterian Church

Sadly, attendances have fallen in churches all across Canada, and many churches have closed doors. At one time Hillsdale had 3 churches, and St. Andrews Presbyterian Church was the lone surviving church. The last few years, typical Sunday attendance ranged from 8-12 with special services such as Christmas Eve bringing in much larger numbers. In a church building that is able to seat 170 people, it became a major challenge to keep going.

Different community activities like last summer the church was a rest stop for Tour for Kids, raising funds to send kids with cancer to cancer camps. :)

Different community activities throughout the year. In this photo the church property was used as a rest stop for Tour for Kids, raising funds to send kids with cancer to cancer camps. We had been involved 3 out of 5 years in the years immediately before COVID. Each year the Tour for Kids has passed through Hillsdale we had the opportunity to work with this great charity. 

Not your typical Christmas tree, we collected mittens, hats and scarves on our mitten tree and then passed them on to the Hillsdale School as well as the women’s shelter for those who are needing these crucial winter items, one of several ways we did outreach to the community of Hillsdale.

We regularly prayed for missionaries within Presbyterian World Service and Development. And the people they ministered to. There was also a local missionary whom we prayed weekly for and supported as much as our little congregation could. Dr. Wendy Willmore is a missionary surgeon in Tanzania. In Canada we have 250 surgeons per 1 million people. In Tanzania there are 2 surgeons per million people. Wendy has devoted her life to saving people lives. https://www.drwillmoremissionary.com/a-life-dedicated-to-saving-lives/

Our annual craft and bake sales were always very popular and were an important fundraiser for our church. It also gave the community the opportunity to #BuyLocal for a unique Christmas gift.

Sadly after 171 years of ministry in Hillsdale, Ontario and surrounding area, the St. Andrews Presbyterian Church, Hillsdale had its final dissolution service on May 29, 2022. It was a day of great sadness, but also a day to look back on God’s faithfulness for the past 171 years.

Building from the outside

When one door closes, God opens another door. As lay pastor of the Hillsdale church for 11+ years, the closure was a heavy load on my shoulders. Soon I was given opportunities to work itinerant ministry with other congregations. One church is a city church called Knox Midland, and the other is a beautiful charge of three country congregations in Jarratt, Rugby and Uptergrove, Ontario. As of February 2023, I started to minister at the three congregations on a regular basis. The first three Sundays of each month. More details can be found on the page “The Three Churches”.