Our Story

His Story In Us

How it all started

There was a time in the history of the Hawthorne Gospel Church when there was no church building and the roads of the community were dirt ones. When the small group of people met in the Lafayette Fire Hall on Sunday afternoon, June 5, 1925, to hold weekly meetings “for the preaching of the Gospel of the grace of God and the Lord’s coming,” they prayed and believed God would bless their efforts – but He did far more than they expected.

Planting The Seed

In 1915, the renowned evangelist Billy Sunday conducted an evangelistic crusade in Paterson, NJ. Following this event, a ladies’ Bible class began, taught by Mrs. Alma Fischer. While standing on the sidewalk outside a home in Hawthorne in 1925–waiting for his wife to come from that ladies’ class, and with no thought of starting another church–one of the men suggested that they consider Sunday afternoon meetings that would not be held at “church time.” Although all were active in a variety of different churches, they felt the need for steady Bible teaching and hear evangelistic messages. In God’s time, the seed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ would grow into full bloom.

As the attendance for these meetings grew, it became clear that God was working. Thus was born the Hawthorne Gospel Mission, a name embodying their core belief: the paramountcy of sharing the gospel. Herrmann G. Braunlin, an active member and leader at the Madison Avenue Baptist Church in Paterson, NJ, was asked to lead the small group.

Where It All Began

In the beginning, Hawthorne Gospel had no buildings or property. At first, the group of believers met at the Lafayette Fire Hall, but the following year, a large canvas tent was purchased for nightly summer meetings and thus began the annual Bible conference which to this day has welcomed well-known guest preachers including A. W. Tozer, Billy Graham, and David Jeremiah. Property was secured on Lafayette Ave in Hawthorne and a church building was soon constructed. In just seven years, the group had become a well-established ministry. The Hawthorne Gospel Mission as it was originally known officially became the Hawthorne Gospel Church in 1932. On March 7, 1934, Herrmann G. Braunlin, who would serve from the beginning as the leader while working in New York City, was invited by the board of the congregation to serve as their first full-time pastor.

A Strong Vision

The small congregation had grown to about 500 in 1953. The need for more space to accommodate the ministry was needed. Again, the Lord was about to do far more than the church expected. God, who knows the future, in 1953, made it possible for the church to acquire 15 acres of choice land on State Route 208 – with room for adequate buildings, ample parking, and for a greatly increased youth program. Church services continued in the Lafayette Avenue building through 1960. The Villa Como property, adjacent to the new property on State Route 208, 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. The property on Lafayette Avenue was sold that same year. After 62 years, Pastor Braunlin was named Pastor Emeritus and Pastor John W. Minnema was installed as Senior Pastor in 1986. 


Years of Growth

The following years saw considerable growth for the Hawthorne Gospel Church. By 1975 church services were averaging 1,000 people. The pavilion, which had been used as the church building since the relocation from Lafayette Avenue, had a capacity of 650. Knowing God’s faithfulness, and Him having done far more than expected, He placed it on the hearts of church leadership to prepare for the future. In 1978 a new 1,600 seat sanctuary was constructed.  The spacious property allowed the church to open Top of the Hill Day Camp in 1974 and Hawthorne Christian Academy in 1981. The first senior class graduated in 1988. Soon thereafter, enrollment grew to over 500 students. This required additional facilities, which included: the Youth Ministries Center (1986), the New Gymnasium (2001), Church Sanctuary renovations (2007), and the Fellowship Center (2021). In 1999, three morning services were instituted, in addition to the evening service. An average of 2,600 people come to worship at the Hawthorne Gospel Church each Sunday.

A Bright Future

The pastoral staff and church leadership felt the Lord paving the pathway towards a new ministry in 2018. The First Baptist Church in Hackensack found themselves lacking the pastoral leadership and financial support needed to sustain the ministries in Hackensack, and they had been praying that the Lord would provide a way to continue the ministries they began for His glory. Sensing the Lord’s calling, the pastoral staff of Hawthorne began preaching on rotation in the city of Hackensack. On March 3, 2020, two weeks before the coronavirus pandemic affected the entire world–the ministry in Hackensack officially became a campus ministry of the Hawthorne Gospel Church, and soon after was renamed as the Hackensack Gospel Church

The Lord has done far more than what the small group of people in 1925 expected. The Hawthorne Gospel Church is accomplishing what only could have been imagined by the original group nearly 100 years ago, and it is all because of the grace of God and His blessing.