The Hollis Presbyterian Church was founded in 1922 by Dr. Frederick Todd Steele after receiving permission from the Presbytery of Brooklyn-Nassau to establish a Sabbath school in the Hollis area. Five adults and two children attended the first service, which was held on January 15, 1922 in a Union Chapel which belonged to the Jamaica Reformed Church and was located near Jamaica Avenue and 189 th Street. In those days, the Church was hopeful, confident, and self-sufficient. When Dr. Steele resigned in 1929, there were 451members and a Church School of 400.
A young and energetic Reverend Lorne Brown succeeded Dr. Steele. Under his leadership the church grew in strength and to a membership of 880. Rev. Brown’s demise at the age of 37 was a severe loss to the Church. Rev. John Currie succeeded Rev. Brown. During his fifteen and one-half years of ministry, church membership continued to grow to 1124. Additions were added to the building for church school, youth programs, and other activities. The Church had a definite commitment to the youth of Hollis.
Reverend Winifred P. Moody succeeded Rev. Currie. Serving as Director of Christian Education at the time, he enthusiastically and lovingly served as Moderator and Acting-Pastor, despite his advanced years.
Reverend Wallace W. Gibbs became the fourth Pastor in 1953. Because there were so many youth programs and activities, Rev. Charles J. Dougherty came as our Assistant Pastor in 1954.
Reverend Scott followed Rev. Gibbs in 1959. It was the time of Civil Rights and quite tumultuous. Rev. Scott assumed the challenge of ministering to a rapidly changing community and congregation. Rev. Charles H. Nelson Jr. served as the Assistant Pastor. Rev. Dr. Robert Pierre Johnson, Executive Presbyter of the New York City described Hollis as the strongest majority black church in our Presbytery. When Rev. Nelson left in 1966, Reverend Roger Quinlin became Assistant Pastor and served until 1969. Regretfully, the Church accepted the resignation of Rev. Scott in May, 1972.
The sixth pastor, Reverend Jefferson P. Rogers was the first African-American Pastor of Hollis. He instituted such programs such as the Forum Series of distinguished lecturers and a concert series featuring well known artists. He resigned his call in March 1977.
Reverend Bryant George was named as Moderator and Dr. Edler Hawkins as Interim Pastor. Then, Rev. Hawkins’ life was cut short in December of the same year. Rev. Charles Steele and Rev. Mike Jousan served as Interim Pastors following the death of Rev. Hawkins.
Reverend Michael Livingston became the seventh Pastor in 1979. Youthful and spirited, he and his wife Nancy had a special affinity to children and young ones in the Church. Under his leadership the Church experienced a period of renewal and growth in membership and stewardship. Extensive repairs were made to the church building and manse and the organ was restored.
When Rev. Livingston left Hollis in 1985, Reverend Howard Bryant Sr. acted as Interim Pastor. He enthusiastically served until 1987, when Reverend John F. Warner became the eighth Pastor of Hollis. Under his leadership, the Church extended itself through the Coalition for the Homeless, and instituted a weekend homeless shelter program for men.
In 1995, Reverend Robina M. Winbush became the ninth pastor and the first woman Pastor of Hollis. Under her energetic spiritual leadership the congregation instituted new programs which sought to serve both the community and congregation. We constructed a three-tier ramp for the physically challenged and the establishment and renovation of a church library. Programs for youth initiated at that time include the Lucy Craft Laney Academic Enhancement Center, Hollis Scholars, as well as other groups for youth of the Church and community such as the Shining Stars, the Future Stars, and One Village. We also began a rich music and liturgical ministry through the Sweet Spirits, the Intergenerational Gospel Choir, and the Spirit of Dance. New forms of social ministry were instituted including the Love Heals Ministry to heighten awareness of and work to support those living with HIV/AIDS and the Prison Ministry sharing the gospel with those incarcerated at Riker’s Island. Rev. Winbush left Hollis in early 2001.
Reverend Mark Chapman served as Interim Pastor through the summer 2002. Rev. Chapman’s compassionate spirit inspired the congregation to continue its mission to serve God in the Hollis community. He had a special love for Prison Ministry and the uplift of young men in our community.
In September 2002, Reverend Dorothy Carrington-Benjamin become our tenth Pastor. She avidly ministered to the congregation through preaching, visitation, and leadership. In an effort to increase our social ministry, she has continued relationships with local community leaders that have resulted in financial support to further our community spread in our existing youth programs and the Summer Day Camp. We were blessed to complete major renovations of the church. Importantly, we instituted new intergenerational programs with strong emphasis on bible study. Under her wisdom and leadership the spiritual life of our congregation was greatly enriched.
Reverend Benjamin was called home on December 27, 2007. Although we mourn her passing, our church is all the richer for the leadership she gave, her counseling, her biblical teachings and the messages she brought forth in her many sermons. Her spirit will always be with us.
Reverend Dr. Mark L. Chapman was installed as the church’s 11th paster on Sunday November 23, 2008.