Rev. Everett Henes, pastor of Hillsdale OPC in Hillsdale, MI, relates how the church utilizes this newly-purchased unique structure, which consists of the original brick building and a newer steel addition.
“I believe the train depot portion of the building was constructed in the early 19th century,” he says. “Twenty years ago, a large metal building (3,500 square feet) was attached to the depot. We purchased the whole structure, giving us a large open space for worship services and additional space for offices and educational classes.”
The Hillsdale OPC dedicated its new facility in a service held on January 24, 2014. Rev. Henes opened and closed the service. Rev. Dr. Peter Wallace preached the sermon. Other participants included ruling elders Dr. John Deliyannides, Dr. Darryl G. Hart, Dr. Richard M. Gamble, and Rev. Glenn Jerrell.
“All those who participated either are part of the session or were part of it in the beginning.” Rev. Henes explains. Hillsdale OPC is a mission work with an overseeing session appointed by its planting church, Grace Reformed OPC in Walkerton, IN, and the Presbytery of Michigan and Ontario. Dr. Wallace functioned as the ministerial adviser for the Hillsdale group until Rev. Henes was ordained in 2008.
The Hillsdale congregation formerly met on the campus of Hillsdale College, which is well-known for its academic excellence and institutional independence. The college was a leader in establishing non-discriminatory policies, but does not accept federal or state tax subsidies for any of its operations.
About 80 Hillsdale students regularly attend services and, in God’s providence, the new location is only three blocks from campus. It is only two blocks from the downtown area and on a main highway that runs through the city, providing high visibility and easy access.
Although worship attendance fluctuates a great deal due to the high number of students, it averages over 100 during the academic year and between 40-50 during the summer.
“This is a great moment in the life of Hillsdale OPC,” Rev. Henes says. “We have been praying for several years that the Lord would provide the right place for us—someplace where we could continue our ministry to the students of the college, but also solidify our place in the community. By God’s grace, this facility is perfect for both of those goals.”
Reaching the community is important to the Hillsdale congregation because this southern Michigan location contains few Reformed influences.
“Hillsdale is in the middle of a Reformed desert,” Rev. Henes says. “There are no confessional Reformed and Presbyterian churches for 90 minutes in any direction. There is little understanding of what Reformed even means, which is shocking for Michigan.”
Rev. Henes relates that the group started in 2007 through the efforts of 25 praying college students, three professors and their families, and one family in the community.
“Since the start, it has grown a great deal,” he says, “and the prayer is that it will continue to grow.”
The above article by Glenda Mathes appeared on page 8 of the March 5, 2014, issue of Christian Renewal.