Seeds on the Rocky/Shallow Soil
by Randy Sands
Free Methodists are people who follow Christ’s teachings. These are explained in the Holy Bible, God’s Word. The Bible is the guide to a satisfying life. Free Methodists earnestly seek to spread His Word throughout the world. They proclaim Christ’s love for all people. The Free Methodist Church is a well recognized Christian denomination emphasizing holy living.
Historically, the Free Methodist Church was organized at Pekin, New York, August 23, 1860. The first bishop of the new church was Benjamin Titus Roberts. He was a champion for equal rights (especially for women), writer, publisher, Christian educator, and holiness preacher. The influence of his character and ministry continue today.
In 1860, the “free” in Free Methodist emphasized certain basic freedoms found in the Scriptures:
The Biblical principles on which these freedoms are based are as important today as ever.
We are “Methodists,” believing in a disciplined, simple lifestyle. Our witness to the world is through enthusiastic, orderly methods.
The mission statement of the church is a declaration of purpose that explains our uniqueness.
“The mission of the Free Methodist Church is to make known to all
people everywhere God’s call to wholeness through forgiveness and
holiness in Jesus Christ, and to invite into membership and to
equip for ministry all who respond in faith.”
The Free Methodist Church declares that God’s call is to people everywhere who want to be whole. The Free Methodist Church offers training for service, and membership in a group of people who share similar beliefs and values. The Free Methodist Church will help you find a relationship with Jesus. Through Him you can receive forgiveness and strength for living a holy life. In short, the Free Methodist Church will help you to be the best you can be.
The Free Methodist Church emphasizes certain issues and concerns in its preaching and activities. A church must have an identity if it is to be healthy and carry out its purposes. Explanations follow of five of these emphases that have top priority.
The mission statement declares that the church is to make known to people everywhere God’s message of good news. The Free Methodist Church maintains an active foreign missions program of evangelism and Christian education.
Free Methodists are a connected people sharing resources in order to do the Lord’s work. The Yearbook, the Light and Life magazine, and World Missionary People Magazine, as well as many other printed resources help to create a workable communication network. The Book of Discipline helps to tie the church together with a common set of beliefs and a shared heritage. In organization there are local, district, conference, and general church levels. Whether from North America or Africa, Tokyo or Mexico City, Free Methodists join under a common Constitution. We practice our faith by the same Membership Covenant. Free Methodists are definitely one family.
In 1890, a group of four women known as the Pentecostal Band came to Hillsboro and held a series of meetings in the upstairs rooms of a store building on Main Street. The Free Methodist Church grew from these revival services and has met continuously as a congregation for more than 100 years.
The frame church built on the corner of Walnut and Dearborn Streets was the house of worship from 1890 to 1995. The church, which first faced north on Dearborn, was dedicated on December 21, 1890, and was rededicated on November 2, 1913, after the structure was moved a short distance east and was turned to face Walnut Street, which is now Birch Street.
The Reverend B. F. Grigg was pastor of the church when it was moved to face Birch Street. The first regular pastor after the congregation was founded was the Reverend B. T. Bonham.
Cyrus Tiffin was elected the first secretary-treasurer and Mrs. Victoria Denton was treasurer from 1911 to 1923. Mrs. Bell Cress was Sunday School superintendent for many of the early years, being re-elected year after year.
In the summer of 1915, the church received a bequest from the Lester Maddox estate which helped pay for the original parsonage.
In 1961, Pastor Tom Ryan, together with a committee of Jim L. Billingsley, Dean Cunningham, Walter Robertson and James Billingsley added a covered porch and lighted cross to the front of the church. New gas furnaces were installed to replace an old coal heating system. The inside of the church was completely redecorated three times during the last 30 years, and new pews were purchased.
The congregation moved to the present facility on July 16, 1995.