Adam Hill's Powerful Influence on Rochester College

by Rachel Taylor
Shield Staff

As he paces up and down in the auditorium, his hand motions accentuate each one of his teaching points in his Tuesday morning Introduction to Christian Faith class.

Adam Hill speaks to a classroom filled with students on this Tuesday morning. “From dust you came and from dust you will return,” says Hill.

He continues to teach on the story of Abraham, lacing a history lesson with a message worthy to be proclaimed from a pulpit. He presents the word with truth and conviction, captivating his students as time seems to pause one morning at Rochester College.

Background

Hill, 36, has been living and working here in Rochester for six years—the most time he has ever lived in one place. He currently serves as an adjunct professor and hockey team chaplain at Rochester College, as well as the minister of the word at Rochester Church of Christ.

Born on the Fort Sill Military Base in Oklahoma, his family moved to West Texas shortly afterward. From there, his father had many different preaching jobs around the state.

“We bounced around West Texas and the Panhandle,” Hill said. “Then we moved to Los Angeles and lived there for five years.”

When Hill was going into high school, his family moved to Indiana. He met his wife, Kelly, at youth group during his sophomore year and the two have been together ever since.

When Hill moved to Nashville to further his education at Lipscomb University, Kelly followed him to study nursing. She finished out her degree at Lipscomb, and Hill went on to earn his bachelor’s degree in history and masters of arts in biblical studies. “We both worked full time and went to school,” Hill said.

Marriage

One night, Adam planned to propose when Kelly came home from work, but he fell asleep before she arrived. “She woke me up when she walked in the door and I remember mumbling ‘Will you marry me?’ ” Hill recalls. “She still said yes,” he says as his face lights up thinking of his wife.

A few complications within Kelly’s family brought the couple back to Indiana, and Hill was offered a ministry position.

“I was a youth pastor at a church and I opened a youth center while I was there. On the weekends, it would operate it as a live music venue where local artists from the area would come and play and I would run sound and production for them,” Hill said.

Music

“I also independently produced a couple of CD’s that I sold out of the back of my trunk. I would headline on my own for my CD release days,” He adds.

While involved in the music and ministry scene, Hill started his own record label called Supergiant Records. “It was never meant to make a profit: it was just for fun but it did allow me to pay my taxes,” Hill said.

“I still love live music and I love hanging out with musicians,” Hill said.

Today, Hill is in a band called Barton W Stone and the Cane Ridge Revival, with Beth Bowers, Jalen Seawright, Aaron Mize and Tom Rellinger from the Rochester College and church community. “We headlined at the Streaming Conference last year,” Hill said. “You didn’t hear about us?” Hill chuckled.

Journey at Rochester College

A phone call from the Rochester College president at the time, Dr. Rubel Shelly, brought Hill to Michigan. Shelly offered him a position working in the graduate department at RC, which Hill accepted and maintained for one year.

Campus Minister Dr. Sara Barton was stepping down from her position at the end of Hill’s first year at Rochester and Hill was asked to replace her. Hill was a perfect fit, as he demonstrates lots of compassion to college students. “You are not your grades. You are what God has made you. Don’t confuse your activity with your identity don’t confuse your productivity with your worth, ” says Hill.

After two years of serving as a campus minister, he was also offered a job as the education minister at Rochester Church of Christ. He served for a short amount of time at the church and loved it, and when the pulpit preacher stepped down from his position, a promotion was offered to Hill. Now, he is minister of the word and loves the team he works with. “They’re incredible,” Hill said.

Hill has one son named Cooper, who is 8 years old. “He’s named after the Cooper River in New Jersey that Kelly and I used to walk around.”

Hills shares that his son is incredibly smart and has a really hard time sitting still.

“He’s funny and he tells the worst jokes. He’s unintentionally hilarious,” Hill said. He added that he hopes his son will learn to help people who are in need and fall in love with God.

Hill has the same aspiration for others, including many young men on the RC men’s hockey team.

“I love all of the sports teams here at RC, but I have been blessed to be the chaplain for the hockey team in particular this year,” says Hill. “I love the unique take on life that most hockey players seem to have. Watching them grow in faith is such a cool part of the opportunity.”

Joe Swenson, a freshman at RC and a forward on the RC hockey team, has heard many of Hill’s messages. “He used analogies with hockey that corresponded with the Bible. I think it helped some of the non-believers on the team to have second thoughts (about faith),” Swenson said.

As a student in Hill’s Introduction to Christian Faith class, Swenson also shares his appreciation for Adam as a professor. “He’s inspiring. He ties in his random stories to his message.”

RC Junior Kaitlynn Moore adds to this praise, “He has a way of talking about the Bible that makes it really funny and easy to grasp.”

Many in the RC community are also being drawn into Hill’s storytelling, as Hill says the church numbers are slowly growing.“Even when churches are growing and shrinking, it’s still a blessing,” Hill says. “I want this place to have a culture that is absolutely saturated with the gospel of Christ. And we’re getting there. We’re learning it,” He adds.

He compares a church to an ocean liner, where changes and turns can sometimes be a very slow and gradual process. The group is learning together, headed toward one sole purpose and message.

Goals

“My primary goal is that we’re as faithful to Christ as we can be,” Hill shares. “I’ve always believed really strongly in the church and that always comes out when I preach,” Hill said. Hill adds that his hope for the greater Rochester College and church community is that each and every person would recognize the love and purpose that God has for everyone.

He states, “The most important thing you can learn is to apply the gospel to everything you are, everything you have, and everything you can imagine and dream, because it’s really true: God is making all things new.”