- Associated Press - Friday, September 26, 2014

HILLSDALE, Mich. (AP) - A handmade wooden cross at the Hillsdale First Baptist Church reminds senior pastor Tim Ambrose of his family’s history every time he walks into the sanctuary.

The cross, which towers over the church pulpit, was built by Ambrose’s grandfather, according to the Hillsdale Daily News ( https://bit.ly/XMePZv ).

Ambrose’s great-grandparents, grandparents and parents all attended the church, the members of which will celebrate its 145th anniversary on Sunday.

Ambrose and his family are the fifth generation to attend the church.

“My great-grandmother was a Sunday School teacher here, so my roots at Hillsdale First Baptist run very deep,” he said. “This was my home church growing up here in Hillsdale, and I am privileged to now pastor this congregation.”



Ambrose said he never thought he would be a pastor growing up. The graduate of Spring Arbor University was more interested in broadcasting, journalism and videography.

“I promised my wife when we got married I wouldn’t go into ministry,” he said.

Today Ambrose’s wife Jennifer is the church’s secretary.

Ambrose gave his first sermon at the church several years ago before becoming a pastor, one of the most nerve-wracking experiences of his life. Nevertheless Ambrose took over as senior pastor at the church a year ago, something he says has been exciting.

“As a child I always wondered what the pastor did while working behind this door,” he said. “I never thought I would sit behind the door.”

Ambrose said he now knows all of the work that goes into being a pastor.

The church was organized as the First Baptist Church of Hillsdale Oct. 1, 1869. Originally the church met in “Liberty Hall” on Broad Street, but moved to its current location in 1888. Additions were built in 1959, 1966 and 1998.

Although church members will be celebrating the church’s history during the anniversary celebration, Ambrose prefers to look toward the future.

“It is neat to lead a congregation that love the Lord and want to serve no matter what the numbers are,” he said. “They are focused on what God is doing in the future.”

Ambrose said he would like to see the ministry of the church continue to grow.

The church recently started a chronic illness ministry to help those people in the community with chronic illnesses.

“I see the church growing again,” Ambrose said. “I want to have the church stand out in the community.”

The celebration will begin at 9:30 a.m. with a service led by Rev. Millard Branon, who was pastor at the church for over 20 years. Patrick and Amy Fata will lead worship and Cory Champion will provide special music.

During the celebration members of the congregation will be recognized. There will be a dinner to follow.

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Information from: Hillsdale Daily News, https://www.hillsdale.net

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