After 40 years, Hilltop Community Church has changed locations and its name, but its mission of discipleship has stayed the same.
“It’s hard to believe so many years have gone by,” Lead Pastor Joel Berger said. “We’ve been able to disciple people and build into their lives. We’ve seen the Lord really grow up people in Him.”
The church celebrated this milestone Sept. 7 at Sierra Lutheran High School with former members traveling from South Carolina, California, Colorado, Idaho and Las Vegas.
“We had a large group of people come and join us in the celebration of what the Lord had done, and how he has used this church over the last 40 years,” Berger said. “The Lord has chosen to use us and we’re so thankful for that.”
Berger remembers his first service as a 27-year-old novice pastor in 1987, when the church was called Ranchos Community Church and located on the corner of Mitch and Riverview drives.
“I felt sorry for the people,” Berger said. “I didn’t know anything. The first year we had a whopping 30 people. We grew up together.”
Berger said the Lord added to the church congregation each year until it outgrew the building in 1987 and needed to move.
“Half our people were coming from Carson City,” he said. “When we outgrew the building we took a survey and 96 percent wanted it somewhere between the Ranchos and Carson City.”
The church was looking at land by David Walley’s Hot Springs when the land on top of the hill in North Douglas County became available.
“There was hardly anyone within a mile or two by us,” Berger said. “We got to grow up with the community, and the Lord continued to bring people to us.”
Since then, the church has added two new buildings paid for by the congregation.
“Almost all the work and the finances came from the body,” Berger said. “And we paid them back, so we own that up there.”
Looking back at where he started, Berger never envisioned himself as a pastor.
“To think, the Lord allows me on a weekly basis to speak to hundreds of people is so foreign, and what it’s done for me is kept me dependent on Him,” he said. “I’m a person nobody would ever have said would be a pastor. I love what I do.”
Hilltop Community Church holds three Sunday services at 8 a.m., 10 a.m. and 4:15 p.m.
The church is located at 3588 Romans Road. For more information, call 267-3020, or visit www.hilltopchurch.net.