In 1915 the first church building, erected at the corner of Hillsborough Street and Glenwood Avenue in 1915, was quickly outgrown. Through the leadership and financial support of E.C. Hillyer, the current lot was obtained and plans for a new church were made. The building was dedicated and occupied September 5, 1926, with George F. Cuthrell as minister. Church services continue to be held in this beautiful sanctuary today. The Great Depression added many burdens to the church because of heavy loans necessary for the completion of the building. With the sudden death of Mr. Hillyer at the communion table, the church lost an able supporter. However, the building of an apartment house on church property as investment provided income and later, capital funds when the property was sold at the close of the World War II. During these difficult years, many members often made personal sacrifices to meet the obligations of the church.
The support of Mrs. Hillyer continued through the Depression and both world wars, and the provisions of her will removed the last indebtedness on the church property. The congregation then engaged in a vigorous program of expansion, leading to the construction in 1949-50 of the chapel and the entire Sunday School wing in back of the sanctuary.
Since then, the church has had several renovations to the original church building, including a major remodeling of the Fellowship Hall and the Sunday School classes. The original Cuthrell Chapel on the west side of the building was remodeled into the present church offices and library, and the present Cuthrell Chapel was built in the area of the old office. The installation of the new organ in the 1970’s signaled a major expansion in the music program of the church. During this period, the Hillyer Community Chorus was founded with concerts presented to the community each fall and spring. To this day, these concerts occupy a unique place in the Raleigh musical scene introducing choral works seldom heard in the United States.
The church has a history of community benevolence, most notably Meals on Wheels of Wake County which was instituted at its beginning with significant support from the church. Its offices were located in Hillyer facilities. In the 1980’s, the congregation sponsored refugee families from Poland and Laos. The church purchased a house on Jones Street behind the church building and relocated the Meals on Wheels program there. A second (more informal) worship service was added.
In 1990, Hillyer celebrated its 75th anniversary. This decade has seen further expansion of the church’s music program with the addition of youth and handbell choirs, and a choir for the early morning worship service. The congregation supported fundraising campaigns to enhance the mission of the Regional and General manifestations of the Christian Church, as well as its own capital campaign with funds used for updating the facility and future property acquisition. Throughout its 93-year history, Hillyer Memorial Christian Church has been outstanding in its participation in Regional and General affairs of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Many members have served on committees and boards, offering leadership to all levels of the Christian Church.
The senior ministers who have led this congregation are: W.C. Foster, 1921-1923; George F. Cuthrell, 1924-1930; J. Randall Farris, 1930-1936; Newton J. Robinson, 1937- 1950; R. Fred West, 1950-1959; Thomas J. Youngblood, Jr., 1960-1971; Donald C. Brewer, 1971-1980; Joseph Grubbs, 1982-1989; Jerry S. Butt, 1990-2002; and David Mallory, 2003-present.
We Believe In…
Open Communion – The Lord’s Supper, or Communion, is celebrated weekly as part of our worship service. Communion is available to all who believe in Jesus Christ.
Freedom of Belief – Disciples are called together around an essential faith: belief in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Each individual is free to follow their conscience as guided by the Bible, the Holy Spirit, study and prayer, and are expected to extend that freedom to others.
Baptism by Immersion – In baptism, the old self-centered life is put aside and a new life of trust in God begins. Although Disciples practice baptism by immersion, other baptism traditions are honored.
Belief in the Oneness of the Church – All Christians are called to be one in Christ and to seek common opportunities for common witness and service.
The Ministry of Believers – Both ministers and lay persons lead in worship, service, and spiritual growth.