During the past forty years, the history of the amazing Hillcrest has unfolded like a dramatic scroll. It all began one Sabbath day on June 7, 1975, when Dr. Leon Cox challenged fifty members of the Ethnan Temple SDA Church to become charter members of a new church in the Hill District of Pittsburgh, PA. Ethnan Temple, which was originally located in the Hill District, had been destroyed by a fire during the civil disorder of April, 1968. They relocated to the Wilkinsburg area, making way for the new Hillcrest SDA Church.

Harold Cleveland, President of the Allegheny West Conference, and other conference officials organized the new body of believers to make up the new church. This new church was named Hillcrest by Sister Mercedes Oakes, due to its location.

Our first house of worship was the John Wesley A.M.E Zion Church on Herron Avenue. Jerome Davis, assistant Pastor at Ethnan Temple, became our first shepherd. Under his leadership the membership grew and we acquired money to buy land for a new church through fund-raising activities and personal sacrifice. In July of 1976, we held an evangelistic tent effort led by Charles Drake and assisted by the late Walter L. Wright of Germantown, Ohio. Pastor Wright became our second shepherd and we moved to our second place of worship – St. Luke’s Baptist Church on Herron and Webster as we continued to add souls and raise money for the new church.

On June 12, 1977, Pastor Wright held a formal ground-breaking ceremony at 2340 Wylie Avenue, only a short distance from the first black Seventh-day Adventist Church in Pittsburgh, PA, established in 1916. Dr. Larry Gipson, the first elder negotiated the purchase of this plot of land from the Urban Redevelopment Authority.

Hillcrest’s third move in 1978 took us to the Avery A.M.E Church where we worshipped with new converts from our crusade in Hazelwood, PA. We left the North Side in 1979 and returned to the Hill District to the Zion Hill Baptist Church. Weeks passed while construction started on the foundation for our new church structure. In the summer of 1979, Hillcrest and Ethnan Temple had a joint evangelistic tent crusade conducted by Evangelist Jerry D. Lee from Ohio.

In 1980, Elder Wright received a call to the Conference office in Columbus, Ohio. While waiting for our new shepherd, Pastor Brewer and Elder Hope from Ohio held a tent meeting, adding more souls to the church. After Camp Meeting, Pastor Jennings became our third shepherd. He was very enthusiastic about helping us accomplish our goals. “In the future we will move into a new church edifice,” were his reassuring words. We continued to work and look forward to that day when our dreams would become reality.

On July 12, 1981, Pastor Jennings conducted a dynamic Canvas Crusade on our lot at Chauncey and Wylie Avenue. That effort closed on September 4, 1981 and our next big celebration took place in the lower auditorium of our long awaited church edifice. Hours of work, tears, earnest prayers and sacrifices made this transition possible.

Pastor Jennings was transferred to Cincinnati, Ohio and on March 20, 1982, Pastor Edward Brown became our fourth shepherd. Under his leadership the sanctuary was completed and we moved upstairs to the main auditorium. We also operated a Community Service Center at Centre Avenue new Kirkpatrick Street, where many needy persons received food, clothing and household items along with truth-filled literature and tender loving care.

Pastor Brown held a tent effort on the North Side during the summer of 1983 but years later received a call to Springfield/Lima area. This ushered in our fifth shepherd, Dr. Kenneth J. Washington. Under his leadership many things were accomplished: souls were won through Revelation seminars and other evangelistic efforts, we renovated our parking lot, added a new sidewalk and fenced in the property.

Pastor Washington received the call to pastor Central SDA Church in Columbus, Ohio. Before leaving, he coordinated the construction of steps and landing from the side of the church leading to the parking lot. He preached his farewell sermon on Nov, 23, 1991, ushering in our sixth shepherd, Joseph E. Harris from St. Petersburg, Florida.

In the summer of 1993, Hillcrest and Ethnan Temple had a joint evangelistic crusade, conducted by Pastor Harris and Alfred Brooker. Pastor Harris brought a spiritual atmosphere to Hillcrest. He led us in the study of the 27 fundamental doctrines of the church, had counsels on diets and foods, and preached on the seven churches in Revelation. He introduced Women’s Ministry, Singles Ministry, Friday Night Rap Sessions for teens and a Mentoring Program.

In April of 1996, Pastor Harris was called to pastor the Ethan Temple Church in Dayton, Ohio. Pastor Derrick Adams became our interim pastor while we awaited the arrival of our seventh shepherd, Dr. Derrick Moffett. He was introduced to the congregation on July 13, 1996 by Pastor S.T Lewis, secretary of the Allegheny West Conference. Under Dr. Moffett’s dynamic leadership, we joined with Ethnan Temple in the “Real Truth Bible Seminar,” conducted by Evangelist R.E Brown from Dallas, Texas. Dr. Moffett also conducted a “Preparation for the Final Crisis” class and in 1999 with the help of Pastor Perry Jennings, held an evangelistic tent effort on Bedford Drive in the Hill District. During this time we purchased a new van, a satellite program and air conditioned the sanctuary.

In June of 2002, Pastor Moffett was called to pastor Shiloh SDA in Cincinnati, Ohio. July 2002; ushered in a new pastor, Jeffrey Baskin. He was enthusiastic and energetic, and under his leadership we started a button campaign asking everyone: “Have you had the Experience?” He rallied the young people to take part in the Hillcrest Youth Explosion in 2003.

He also organized the Homewood North Youth Program, which had members of the church ministering by conducting bible classes and workshops to the young and old of the community every Sabbath. Pastor Baskin cared deeply about “Quiet Fire” – people who work behind the scene to uplift the church. He honored members who gave of themselves freely and unselfishly with plaques. During his tenure, we purchased a commercial stove, flooring for the Fellowship Hall and opened the Computer Technology Center.

In 2004, a tragic fire destroyed Ebenezer Baptist Church and we extended our facility for their worship service. God blessed them as they were able to rebuild and in 2006 moved into the new edifice.

In 2005, Pastor Baskin installed Hillcrest’s first female elder, Sister Mamie Clemons. Also at this time the Conference directed Hillcrest and Ethnan Temple to combine efforts to once age to make a new church a reality, establishing the Rock of Faith. Pastor Baskin and Pastor Baldwin (Ethnan Temple) worked diligently with Evangelist Gene Donaldson on establishing the new church.

In June of 2007, Pastor Baskin preached his last sermon as pastor of Hillcrest SDA Church, moving on to pursue his work in evangelism and community outreach. April 2007 brought our ninth and current shepherd, Pastor William Vincent. Pastor Vincent brought in many evangelistic ministers, ranging from world-renowned Pastor Randy Skeete, Pastors Paul and Patrick Graham, and his brother, Pastor Patrick Vincent. Pastor Vincent seeked to add souls to the church, continuing to give Bible Studies and distribute Steps to Christ.

Charter Members

  • Crystal Smith Alexander
  • Charles Anderson*
  • Christina Anderson
  • Dr. David Anderson
  • Pastor Paul Anderson
  • Thelma Anderson
  • John Barnett
  • Carolyn Johnson Bowman
  • Rosella Burdette
  • Michele Charity
  • Nellie Charity
  • Ricardo Charity
  • Mamie Wadkins Clemons
  • Patricia Corbin*
  • Louise E. Davis*
  • Jean Dore
  • John Dore*
  • Helen Downing*
  • Alice Francisco*
  • Rose Frazier*
  • Booker Gipson
  • Howard Gipson
  • Larry Gipson
  • Nellie Gipson
  • Patricia Gipson
  • Yvonne Gipson
  • Zebbe Gipson
  • Maurice Glenn
  • Martha Hawkins
  • Rosena Hawkins
  • Vanessa Hawkins
  • Benjamin H. Jackson
  • Annie Moore*
  • Lillie Mae Nelson*
  • Mercedes Oakes
  • Ronald Orange*
  • Edward Peterson
  • Nellie Rodgers*
  • Latitia Sheard
  • Barbara Smith
  • Tawana Nicole Smith
  • Linda Nelson Telaferro
  • Prince Thomas*
  • Patricia Wallace
  • Henry Wheeler*
  • Willa Mae Wheeler*

*Deceased Members