The First Baptist Church of Hillside was birthed on June 24, 1919, when Ms. Elizabeth Goeller invited a group of 20 neighborhood children to the garden of her home on Brookside Avenue for a Sunday School class. The Sunday School grew so large that in 1924 the then Elizabeth Avenue Baptist Church, Newark, built the First Baptist Church of Hillside at its present location and officially opened its doors for public worship on the 12t h of April. The First Baptist Church of Hillside was first known as the “Hillside Gospel Church”. On September 25, 1929 the congregation voted to change its name officially to “The First Baptist Church of Hillside.” The church was incorporated on May 14, 1945 as a not for profit organization for the sole purpose of preaching the good news of Jesus Christ to the Township of Hillside, Union County, and beyond.
On February 5, 1955 a fire in the church basement nearly destroyed the entire church building. The congregation held Sunday morning worship at the Veterans Memorial Home located at Liberty Avenue, until construction was completed. William and Rosetta Ray became the first African American members on January 13, 1971. Frank W. Shannon donated the air conditioning unit for the sanctuary on September 23, 1973. Mrs. Millie Gullman donated burial plots for members at Hollywood Memorial Park, Union, New Jersey. The Ruth B. Pearce Memorial Scholarship was established in 1990 for high school graduates who will attend college or a technical school. The “Sparrow Food Pantry” was officially opened on March 2, 1996 to feed the homeless and the displaced as well as those without adequate incomes to support themselves.
Eleven ministers had the privilege of serving as the Pastor of First Baptist Church of Hillside prior to October 2005, when Rev. Marvin Robinson became the Interim-Pastor. Rev. Robinson provided leadership as the Interim-Pastor immediately following the retirement of The Reverend Dr. William H. Chavis, Jr., who became the first African-American pastor on April 9, 1984.
In August 2008, First Baptist Church of Hillside called it’s twelfth senior pastor to serve the members of its spiritual family and local community: The Rev. Dr. Christopher Michael Jones (August 2008 – Present).
Upon Dr. Jones’ arrival the church began to experience considerable numerical growth and birthing of new ministries which include the New Servants Ministry, FBC Marriage Ministry, iCARE, Church Without Walls, HomeworkPLUS, The Love Mob, Operation Rescue, Live @ Five Saturday Evening Worship Service, 8:00 AM Sunday Worship Service, S.A.L.T., FBC-Y.A.M., Chosen Generation Millennial Bible Study, FBC Social Justice Ministry, FBC Annual Men’s Cook Off, Senior Appreciation Sunday, FBC Christmas Toy Give-A-Way, Annual Children’s Day, Annual Family and Friends Day, Clergy Appreciation Sunday, S.W.A.G., Children’s Mass Christmas Choir, The King’s Men, Sisters In Spirit, Diaconate-In-Training Ministry, Ministers-In-Training Ministry, Leadership Academy, Health and Wellness Ministry, Night Light Ministry, and a host of other programs, worship services, sanctuary modifications, annual days and outreach initiatives that support our vision to “Reach the City for Jesus Christ, One Family, One Heart, One Soul, One Mind at a Time” – Mt, 28:19-20.
An American Baptist Churches USA congregation, FBC-Hillside has grown by over 600 families into the special place we affectionately call “The Hill”; where people of all ages, cultures, and ethnicities gather from week to week to hear powerful preaching, Bible-based teaching, serve the community and celebrate the presence of Jesus Christ.