Background

Before 2007, Hillsdale, Michigan, was the epicenter of a region significantly lacking in confessional Reformed churches. There were four Orthodox Presbyterian churches, three Presbyterian Church in America churches, one Reformed Presbyterian Church in North America and one Reformed Church in the United States that are between 70-100 minutes from Hillsdale. There is a Christian Reformed Church in Jackson and an Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Battle Creek, but otherwise there were no confessional Reformed churches available.

Over the years the OPC’s Presbytery of Michigan and Ontario received occasional inquiries from southern Michigan, asking about the possibility of starting an Orthodox Presbyterian congregation in the area, but nothing developed.

In 2006, Dr. Richard M. Gamble, a ruling elder from Fellowship OPC in Lake Worth, Florida, moved to Hillsdale to take a position as professor of History. While occasionally driving 1-2 hours to visit a Reformed church, he had usually attended a conservative Missouri Synod Lutheran church about 35 minutes from Hillsdale. In 2007, Dr. Christopher Hamilton, with his wife, Anita, and their two daughters, moved to Hillsdale from Providence OPC in Austin, Texas, to take a position as professor of Chemistry. These two families contacted Grace Reformed OPC in Walkerton, Indiana, that summer, and inquired about starting an Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Hillsdale.

Also, over the years many students from confessional Reformed churches have attended Hillsdale College. While appreciating the ministry and oversight of other area churches, many of these students have voiced a desire for Reformed preaching and worship.

On September 22, 2007, the Presbytery of Michigan and Ontario of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church approved the petition of a group of professors and students to begin a mission work in Hillsdale, Michigan, by the name of Hillsdale Orthodox Presbyterian Church. The church began to hold evening worship services on Sunday, October 21, 2007.

In June 2008, a church planter arrived and plans were set to begin morning worship services, in addition to the evening, at the end of August 2008. This coincided with the arrival of a new batch of college students with their families. That Sunday morning there were around 100 people present.

The congregation met at the Dow Leadership Center on the campus of the college. As community members began to attend, it became clear that another facility would be ideal and a search began. After considering several properties in the community, the church purchased the Old Train Depot at 44 Monroe St. This is only 3 blocks from the college campus and only a couple blocks from downtown Hillsdale. The location is ideal for reaching both communities.

On Friday, April 17th, the Presbytery of Michigan and Ontario met to recognize HOPC as a new and separate congregation and install its elders, deacon, and pastor.