On January 25, Hillsdale UB celebrated its 100th anniversary. State Sen. Cameron Brown delivered the invocation and Bishop Paul Hirschy gave the benediction. Nearly 600 people attended the two morning worship services. The first service concluded with the baptism of 12 people, while the second service ended by taking 37 into membership, which broke a record that had stood for a century.
On January 24, 1904, thirty charter members formed the church. Hillsdale UB connected its Centennial Celebration with the historic first flight of the Wright Brothers and their UB background. The Centennial motto is, “Soaring with Christ, we see the world from a different perspective.” During the first service, Bishop Paul Hirschy was introduced to a man bearing the same name as the Wright brothers’ father, who was a former United Brethren bishop. Milton Wright began visiting Hillsdale UB last fall. Each of those who were baptized or joined the church that day were given one of the new quarters depicting the Wright brothers conquest of the air.
Over the last five years, Hillsdale’s ministry has averaged one conversion per week. Through the first quarter of this year, the average was two per week, partly as a result of the response to the Passion of the Christ film. The church purchased all the tickets for five showings of the film at the local theater. Pastor Les Smith instructed the congregation not to buy the discounted tickets unless they also bought one for an unsaved or unchurched person. All 1,000 tickets were sold, and approximately half of those attending the five showings were not from the church. Each of the four pastors at Hillsdale took a turn at presenting an invitation at the conclusion of one of the showings, and a dozen people responded.
Pastor Smith preached a Lenten series on the Passion from Isaiah 53, the fifth verse of which appears on the screen at the beginning of the film. There was a definite impact on attendance for Easter, when nearly 800 attended the two services, a church record.