Hillsdale Baptist Church stands today because of the goodness of God and the faithfulness of His servants over the years -- to God be the glory!
In 1962 Hillsdale was formed out of the former Buffalo Avenue Baptist Church, one of the great churches of Tampa in those years. This newly formed church would have to find a suitable place to meet for services and begin their new ministry. They located property near Hillsborough Avenue and Dale Mabry highway and began meeting in a single story building. Rev. Harold Bowe was the first pastor but retired within a few years. After a brief term by Rev. Robert Smith, the church called Alan Bradshaw and his wife, LuAnn, from a small church in Georgia to serve as their Pastor in 1965.
God used Pastor Bradshaw and those early members to raise up Hillsdale as a Gospel lighthouse in Tampa. Beginning with a small congregation in the backyard of a chicken farm, hundreds were won to Christ, baptized and discipled to use their talents for the Lord's work. Their vision and tireless effort resulted in the need for a number of building projects on the corner of Henry and Church Avenues spanning the 60's, 70's, and 80's producing nearly 60,000 square feet of space. The excitement of those days grew proportionately as the ministry increased and expanded. New ministerial staff (youth, music, visitation, and children's ministries) helped broaden the scope of Hillsdale's outreach.
The first additional staff member was J. Richard Nichols, who came to serve the youth and led Hillsdale's choir and music program. During Dr. Nichols' 33-year ministry, the music of Hillsdale became a nationally known standard of excellence. Other noteworthy staff members were Larry Karsies (youth) and Charles Dreyer (children) who contributed greatly during their years at Hillsdale. In addition, God led the church forward in world missions, supporting scores of missionaries around the globe and also sending some of Hillsdale's own to the foreign field.
In June of 1995, God chose to end an era. While driving with two interns to perform a funeral, Pastor Bradshaw suddenly succumbed to a heart attack and was ushered into eternity. Hillsdale was overwhelmed with grief and fear at the loss of its shepherd, but God was still in control. In October of 1995, Hillsdale voted to call Rev. Travis D. Smith, the youth pastor of 10 years, to become the Senior Pastor. With the death of Pastor Bradshaw, Hillsdale closed a foundational chapter in its history; but under the leadership of Pastor Smith, God opened a new and exciting chapter for His people to set their hearts and souls to build a mighty testimony for Him in Tampa.
Today, individual believers know the joy of training others who in turn grow to be like Christ. Hillsdale has taken the Biblical challenge of "equipping the saints for the work of the ministry, for the edyfying of the body of Christ." (Ephesians 4:12)