The story of Hills Church has its roots in the story of early Indiana. Waves of Easterners
were moving down the Ohio River in search of new beginnings in the frontier. Getting
off flat boats in Madison and Clarksville, they made their way northwestward through
forest land which not long ago had been hunting ground of the native inhabitants.
Just twenty-eight years earlier William Henry Harrison had won the famous battle
of Tippecanoe, which broke the Indian Confederacy and cleared the way for new settlers.
The state of Indiana was still in its infancy, merely twenty-three years old, when
the forebears of Hills Church began moving into Clinton County from points south
and east. Among those searching for better land were John and Delilah Hill and their
son Isaac, who left Jennings County, Indiana in 1838, and George Wimborough, who
left Rush County, Indiana in 1839. Being members of Baptist churches at their former
homes, they soon saw the need for a church in this newly settled land.
Seeking the recognition and blessings of other Baptist churches in the area, they
called upon members from the Hopewell, Lauramie, and Bethel churches to meet with
them at the home of John Hill for the purpose of organizing a Regular Baptist Church
on the Middlefork of Sugar Creek. The proceedings of that first organizational meeting
are best seen from the original minutes which were recorded in The Church Book :
By the request of some Regular Baptist members on the Middlefork of Sugar Creek
Clinton County Indiana, the following brethren met at the house of Elder John Hill
on Friday the 24th day of October 1839. From Hopewell Church, Elder Peter Webb,
from Lauramie Church, Brethren John Rife and Benjamin Whitteberry, and from Bethel
Church, Nathaniel Titus and David Ross.
The council being thus met, organized by appointing Elder Peter Webb moderator
and David Ross clerk, and the following members presented letters for to be constituted
into a Regular Baptist Church, Brethren John Hill and Delilah Hill his wife from
the Baptist Church of Christ at Coffee Creek, Jennings County Indiana, dated October
1st 1838, and George Wimborough from the Regular Baptist Church called Bigflatrock
Rush County Indiana, dated, May 25th 1839, and Isaac P. Hill from the BaptistChurch
of Christ at Coffee Creek Jennings County Indiana (no date). After a consultation
on the subject the moderator (Elder-P. Webb) giving them the right hand of fellowship,
pronounced them a Regular Baptist Church of Jesus Christ, done by order of the council
and signed in behalf of the same,
Peter Webb, Moderator
David Ross, Clerk
With this action the Regular Baptist Church of Jesus Christ called Middlefork of
Sugar Creek was born.
The first few years were marked with encouraging achievement and disappointing setbacks.
Less than a month after its founding a fifth member was added, Melissa Wimborough,
who was the first to be baptized in Sugar Creek. The next year was marked with significant
growth, due in part to a recruitment effort in Michigantown; however, in just a few
short months a majority of these members left to form a new church in Michigantown.
In 1840 the first officers were elected. John Hill served as moderator, George Wimbourgh
as writing clerk, and Isaac P. Hill as singing clerk. A year later the first trustees
and treasurer were elected. In 1842 James Hill became the first deacon and John Hill
was officially called as pastor.
Several members were added to the church from the recently dissolved Zions Hill Church
in Clinton County. These additions provided a firm foundation on which to build.
While the following years were by no means easy, the initial struggle was over. Hills
Church was firmly established.
The Regular Baptist Church of Jesus Christ called Middlefork of Sugar Creek changed
its name to Hills Baptist Church in honor of the Hill family on July 17th, 1909.
When first formed, the church met primarily in the homes of John Hill and George
Wimborough. In 1841 the church accepted a donation of land from James Hill designated
for a “meeting house” and burying ground. The first worship service was held in the
meeting house in September 1842, although the meeting house was not completed for
some time due to the lack of funds.
The second meeting house was constructed sometime between 1856 and the beginning
of the Civil War.
The third meeting house, unlike the first two meeting houses was a frame building
on a stone foundation and not a log cabin. The third meeting house was completed
in 1900 and has continued to serve the church for over 110 years. Through the years
several improvements, additions and repairs have been completed. The last major addition
was completed in November 1975. This added new classrooms, restrooms, kitchen, church
office, and a fellowship area named “Garver Hall” in honor of the family who made