- Written by Admin
- Published: 03 Jan 2019
Hawthorne Gospel's story begins in 1915 with evangelist Billy Sunday conducting a campaign in Paterson. As a result of the campaign, a ladies’ Bible class began, taught by Mrs. Alma Fischer. While some men were waiting for their wives to come from the ladies' class, one of the men suggested that they consider Sunday afternoon meetings that would not be held at “church time” since many of them were already active in a variety of churches.
On June 5, 1925, the Sunday afternoon meetings for Bible study began in the Lafayette Avenue Fire Hall and a few months later, Sunday School began with 24 children attending. Only after five years, the church had built and dedicated a church building on Lafayette Avenue, a few doors up from the Fire Hall. The Hawthorne Gospel Mission as it was originally known became the Hawthorne Gospel Church in 1932. In 1934, Herrmann G. Braunlin, who had been serving as leader, was invited by the board of the congregation to serve as their first full-time pastor. That same year, the rustic Summer Pavilion adjacent to the church on Lafayette Avenue was finished and was used for Summer Bible Conference meetings.
In 1953, a plot of 15 acres on the unpaved Route 208 was available for purchase. The congregation unanimously voted to purchase this land and five years later, the Summer Pavilion, the first building on the property, was built for Summer Bible Conference meetings. Just a few years later, the Villa Como property, adjacent to the Route 208 property, was purchased in 1960, and the Villa Como building was renovated and used for the Hawthorne Bible House, a Christian bookstore sponsored by the church. The total acreage on Route 208 then became 22 acres. That year the church sold the property on Lafayette Avenue and only used the Route 208 property.
As needs came, ministries developed, and in 1974 Top of the Hill Day Camp opened as a ministry of the church and only a few years later in 1981, Hawthorne Christian Academy was founded as a ministry of Hawthorne Gospel Church. It was a vision laid upon the hearts of church leaders to create a place where children could receive a solid spiritual and academic education. In the years since, the vision has remained the same: to weave a biblical worldview through every aspect of the educational experience.
In 1986, Pastor Braunlin was named Pastor Emeritus and Pastor John W. Minnema was installed as Senior Pastor.
By 1999, three-morning services were instituted in addition to the evening service with an average attendance of 2,600 each Sunday. At the same time, the Sunday School was attended by an average of 900 and church membership rose to over 1,000.
After 30 years of use, in 2007, church leaders felt it was necessary to extensively renovate the church sanctuary and after 3 months of updates and renovations, the church sanctuary had finished the renovations.
Today, Hawthorne Gospel Church is accomplishing what only could have been imagined by the original group over 90 years ago, and it is all because of the grace of God and His blessing.