FALLS CREEK – The Smithtown Community Church on Smithtown Road in Falls Creek began as a former school as part of the American Sunday School Union in 1929, said Pastor Harold Hills.
The independent, interfaith church has moved a few times, Hills said. The upper part of the present sanctuary was built in 1951. By 1974 Randy Spencer was the pastor, Hills said, and the church has grown to over 400 members.
Hills, 68, pastor at Smithtown Community Church in 1983 and has been there for 36 years.
Hills grew up in DuBois and attended Penn State University.
He had both âmountaintopâ and âvalleyâ experiences, Hills says, but he learned the most about himself and God during the âvalleyâ depressions.
Hills lost and regained his faith, he says, and was an atheist when a friend invited him to a group of young Methodists, where he met his future wife, Nancy.
When he was a Boy Scout executive, Hills said he “found God” at a Girl Scout camp event at Camp Curry Creek in Brockway, during the “most honest time of his life.” While with his girlfriend at the time, Hills felt a strong sense of purity, and at that time, he says, he believed in God. He gave Communion that night and considered himself a Christian.
Hills was very shy in high school, he says, and now loves people and talking in front of them. He has participated in several mission efforts in places such as Texas, Mexico, Argentina, Scotland and Japan.
Hills attended the E. Stanley Jones School of World Mission and Evangelism to become a missionary, but after joining SCC he decided he was called to be a pastor of the church.
Hills is the author of two books: âThe Word of the Lordâ and âThe Sounds of His Voiceâ.
When he traveled to Israel for a conference in 1976, Hills said “the world had grown” in his eyes. Since then, he has been thirsty to learn about groups of people, whose world numbers 17,243.
âIt immersed me in the world of the mission,â he said. “This is my passion.”
SCC mission groups built churches in Bolivia that were daughters of 42 other churches in 1987, Hills said.
Mission efforts also took place in Texas, Russia two months before the Communist revolution, Thailand and China for spiritual warfare prayer, building two churches in South Africa, and helping areas of poverty. in Cancun, Mexico in 2012-2013, Hills said. .
Hills loves to “pray for other countries,” he says, and reads about them often. Recently he started praying for Jammu and Kashmir in India, where he will be visiting in October this year with Feliciano Evan.
âWe’re a small church of 70 to 80 people, but we have a big picture,â Hills said.
SCC’s passion is Jesus, compassion is people and mission is âthe world,â he said.
The church supports 21 missionaries.
CSC contributes to many community causes, such as the Reynoldsville Food Pantry, nursing home services in DuBois and Brookville, and a Bible school during summer vacation. Volunteers also visit the Clearfield County Jail once a month.
Hills is involved with the Clearfield / Jefferson Suicide Prevention Team, the International Organization of Calvary Ministries, and the board of directors of the We Care Pregnancy Center in Punxsutawney.
CSC hosted a community celebration, open to the public, in June of this year.
Sunday services include family Bible time at 9:30 a.m., worship at 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m., but fall service hours will change to 10:45 a.m., Hills said. An adult prayer / Bible study group meets on Wednesday and a youth group meets at 5 p.m. on Sunday.
The church may be small, but it has a bright vibe, Hills says, and everyone is welcome.
âA lot of people say when you walk into this church you feel love,â he said. âThey feel the presence of God here.