Hillsdale Methodist Church was started in 1949 in the new and expanding Hillsdale area of San Mateo. Seven couples from Burlingame Methodist Church helped form the church, and the first service was held on August 21, 1949. The Charter Sunday, marking the official opening of the church, was on October 2, 1949
Church construction highlighted the 1950s featuring the opening of the current Wesley Hall (1950), the wing of classrooms, and the sanctuary (1956). During the 1960's the focus was on expanding church programs in response to a large and growing congregation. The Methodist Youth Fellowship flourished as inspirational meetings, projects, activities, and summer camps took place. The church first sponsored a family to be resettled in the United States (a Dutch-Indonesian Family in 1961). Also, the last building, the Peterson Room, was completed (1964).
Reverend Doug Hayward - Preaching
Major societal changes occurred during the late 1960s and into the 1970s with the Vietnam War, racial problems, and environmental concerns. At Hillsdale, membership and attendance began to decrease. In 1971, the first Tongan service conducted in the United States occurred at Hillsdale that led to a thriving Tongan ministry. A major renovation of Wesley Hall was completed in 1977.
During the 1980's attendance was still down, but the strengths of the church were leveraged to achieve even more community outreach and attract new people. However, it was a natural calamity by which most may recall this decade: during heavy rains in January, 1983, the sanctuary was flooded which required major repairs including new carpeting.
While no single theme dominated the last decade of the 20th century, there were several exciting developments. In 1993 some 80 transferred members were received from Belmont's Carlmont UMC that was closing. An outstanding Adult Education Program was reestablished during the mid-1990s. Community outreach continued with as participation began in 1992 with the Second Harvest Food Bank, and a mentoring program (the Tutor Learning Center) was started with the Laurel School in 1993. In 1994 then Pastor Dick Ernst held a very unique pet blessing service. In 1996 the church became an official Stephen Ministry provider with the first members trained and received. The music program expanded rapidly in 1996 with four special concerts held at the church.
The church marked its 50th anniversary in 1999 culminating with a major celebration the first weekend in October. "Bridging the Millennium" became the catch phrase that year. That was indeed taken to heart - a new governing structure called the Church Vision Council was adopted for the church to be even more responsive to community and member needs. Then, in the year 2000, the members decided to actively participate in the Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN) and just last month the church first hosted several homeless families for a week. Also, in the year 2000, the church endowment fund is started, providing members with a great opportunity for members to donate portions of their estates to the church.