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A diverse community. Forgiven. Walking by faith. In Christ.

Highland Park Baptist Church is a diverse community of the forgiven, walking by faith in the completed work of Jesus Christ on the cross for us.

Our desire is to provide a place where people of all backgrounds can worship and grow as one family in Christ.

Our Values

We are called to:

Worship God with all that we are.

Grow as disciples of Jesus Christ.

Go serve others and share the good news of Jesus.

The Highland Timeline

For more than 100 years, God has faithfully preserved the ministry of Highland Park Baptist Church.

  • 1910 · A small band of Christian men and women began a Sunday school in Highland Park, Michigan.
  • 1911 · 20 members organized the Baptist Society of Highland Park.
  • 1913 · Society reorganized with 37 charter members and took the name Highland Park Baptist Church.
  • 1914 · A building committee was appointed and a lot purchased on Ford Avenue in Highland Park.
  • 1957 · 20 acres of land was purchased in Southfield, MI. Ground was broken for the chapel in June 1962, and January 20, 1963, the first unit of the new branch was dedicated.
  • 1966 · The Southfield and Highland Park branches merged at the new Southfield location.
  • 1968 · The present worship center was dedicated.
  • 1970 · HPBC opened Southfield Christian School.
  • 1972 · A new activities building was built to house the junior and senior high school students of SCS.
  • 1975 · SCS received accreditation from the University of Michigan and the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools.
  • 1971 · The church purchased land that extended its property to the corner of 12 Mile and Lahser Roads.
  • 1984 · A second Sunday morning worship service was added.
  • 2005 · An Elder Board was elected to oversee ministries and operations.
  • 2008 · Pastor Brent Slater was commissioned as the new Senior Pastor.
  • 2012 · The Next Chapter Initiative brought building renovations and an updated Worship Center facility. 
  • Present · Strong Foundation is a three-year church-wide initiative to “strengthen our church’s physical foundation” for generations to come.
Our Team

Nancy Baughman

Early Childhood

Nancy Baughman serves as our Early Childhood Director, and brings a big heart and the experience of over fifty years to children’s ministries. She joined our staff ministry team in 1996. After receiving her Bachelor of Science in Education at Eastern Michigan University, Nancy taught Kindergarten at a Christian School before starting a family. She then ran a preschool in her home for the next twenty years. With the support of her creative and energetic volunteers, the Early Childhood program continues to use concrete and hands-on ways to show our little ones God loves and cares for them. Nancy and Ken have been married forty-three years, have three grown children, and ten grandchildren. Nancy’s favorite thing to do is spend time with family.

Andrea Hockenbrocht

Women's Ministry Director

Andrea Hockenbrocht serves as our Women’s Ministry Director. Her desire is for women to know how Jesus Christ meets the needs in every area in our lives, for women to grow in their knowledge of God’s Word, and for the body of Christ to walk in love as we care for one another. Over the past 33 years, Andrea has served in various ministries at HPBC; teaching in the elementary children’s department, participating in and leading women’s bible studies, mentoring young women, and belonging to a Grow group and care groups. Andrea was a part of the Southfield Christian School staff from 2000 - 2017 as a classroom teacher. Andrea and her husband, Doug, have two married children who live in New York City and Texas. They welcomed their first grandchild to their family in 2019. In addition, they love to golf, bicycle, work on house projects, and get together with friends.

Will Guerra

Head of School at SCS

Will Guerra serves as Head of School at Southfield Christian School, a ministry of HPBC. Will is well known in both the Southfield Christian and Highland Park Baptist Church communities. He is the husband of a SCS alumna, Nancy Guerra (Hall) parent of two SCS alumni (Christina, Class of 2013 and Ben, Class of 2016) served on the SCS School Board, and coached the Varsity Baseball team for many years. He has been a member of Highland Park Baptist Church for over 35 years and has served as a member and chairman of the Elder board, Youth Ministry team, Trustee, and Mission boards. Will has a strong love and passion for Southfield Christian School and HPBC, and more importantly, his personal testimony and reliance on Jesus Christ prepared him well to lead Southfield Christian School into the future.

Pastor John

Shepherding Development

Pastor John is passionate about Shepherding; being eager to connect people into relationships and opportunities that allow them to flourish in their relationship with Jesus Christ. John frequently is engaged in teaching, counseling and leadership development. Growing up in Michigan, John did undergraduate studies at Cornerstone University, followed by a Master’s at Dallas Theological Seminary and Doctorate from Fuller Graduate School. John and his wife Carol enjoy spending time with family, going on walks, exploring new pathways and bicycling whenever they can.

Aaron Johnson

Director of Worship

Aaron Johnson directs our worship team at the church. His heart’s desire is for God’s people at Highland Park Baptist to worship Him precisely the way that He desires to be worshipped. Just as every member of our physical body worships the Lord in a specific way, it is Aaron’s desire to search the heart of God for the songs, and services that communicate the most intentional and genuine praise to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Before coming on staff, Aaron attended Central Michigan University and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Performance. Aaron enjoys writing songs that encourage and edify the Body of Christ, but he also enjoys writing songs as a way of reaching out to the lost and encouraging them to open their hearts to the Lord as well.

Scott Kowalski

Business Manager

Scott Kowalski serves as our Business Manager and also oversees Encore Upscale Resale, a ministry of Southfield Christian School. Scott’s a native of metro Detroit and is an alumni of SCS class of 97’, where he met his wife Jena, also class of 97'. The Kowalski’s have three children, Tyler, Andrew and Madison, all who attend SCS. Scott has a Bachelor Degree in Business Administration from Oakland University along with a combined 15+ years of lending, finance and non-profit experience. Scott enjoys serving at HPBC, because it’s a church that focuses on Christ, His Word and serving others. Scott loves spending time with his family and friends along with playing golf and baseball.

Lake Slabach

Family Ministry Pastor

Lake Slabach serves as our Family Ministry Pastor and is passionate about seeing parents embrace their role as the primary disciplers of their children. He also enjoys seeing leaders grow and take ownership of ministries within the church. Before joining our staff in 2021, Lake served at a church in North Carolina. He holds a Bachelor Degree in History from High Point University, and a MA in Christian Studies from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He and his wife Elly have one daughter, Davie. Lake loves spending time with his family, exploring new places and restaurants, playing golf, and keeping up with various sports interests.

Brent Slater

Senior Pastor

Brent Slater serves as the Senior Pastor of Highland Park Baptist Church. He was raised in Africa as the son of medical missionaries. After studying at Hope College and Denver Seminary, he was sent by HPBC to serve the Lord in Uganda. He planted churches and developed leaders in Uganda for 22 years along with his wife, Inell, and their three sons. During those years he completed a Ph.D. in Edinburgh, Scotland. In 2005, the elders asked Brent to come serve at HPBC. Brent's desire is to glorify God by faithfully teaching and obeying His Word, serving His people, and reaching the lost both here and around the world. He has a passion for the King whose kingdom crosses borders and cultures, making disciples of all people.

Jimmy Smith

Executive Pastor

Jimmy Smith serves as our Executive Pastor and possesses a strong desire to see members of the body of Christ growing deeper in their personal walk with the Lord. He also enjoys spending time developing current and upcoming leaders within the church for the ministry of service. Before joining our staff in 2011, Jimmy served at a church in North Carolina as well as worked in the motorsports industry. He holds a Bachelor Degree in Business Administration from Western Carolina University, and a Master of Divinity from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He and his wife Amber, have two children, Jack and Addie. Jimmy loves spending time with his family, along with running, camping and playing softball.

Andy Rist

Pastor of Spiritual Formation

Andy Rist serves as the Pastor of Spiritual Formation at Highland Park Baptist Church. He desires, by the strength and guidance of the Holy Spirit, to “present every man complete in Christ.” (Col 1:28-29) Andy is a native of Michigan, where he completed his undergraduate degree in Business at Wayne State University. Then, the Lord moved him to Texas to study at Dallas Theological Seminary, where he earned a Master of Theology degree. Prior to Andy’s call to HPBC, Andy and his wife, Holly, with their three children, served as missionaries in Ukraine for 20 years, where Andy discipled and trained church leaders at Kyiv Theological Seminary. Andy enjoys spending time with his family, the study of church history, being outdoors, any chance to travel, and every opportunity to try a new cultural meal.

Gar Hoover

High School Director

Gar Hoover serves as our High School Director and has a passion for teaching and discipling students to create lifelong relationships with the Lord. Gar attended Highland Park and Southfield Christian School from kindergarten to 12th grade and was part of the Crash as a high school student. Gar graduated from Belmont University with a Bachelor of Arts in Christian Leadership and shortly after married his wife Susie who is also a Michigan Native. Gar is currently pursuing a Masters of Divinity from Denver Seminary online. He enjoys skiing, hiking, and cooking fun meals with his wife.

Debbie Christenson


Lori Ervin

Service Center

Lisa Fair

Pastoral Support

Theresa Linenger


Gary Hobart


Marilyn Moore


Elijah Morrow

Student Ministries

Debbie Niffin


Tim Parsons

Worship Assistant

Ann Ruppenthal


Loosha Simmons

Global Missions

Andy Veldman

I.T./Video Production

Dave Veldman

Facilities & Maintenance

Jill Wright

Student Ministries

Gordon Ainsworth


Jason (Kathleen) Hanson


Curtis (Meredith) Kaisner


John (Carol) K.


Jeff (Carol) Mosley


Brady (Elizabeth) Schlesener


Brent (Inell) Slater


Jimmy (Amber) Smith


Frank (Cathy) Tanana


What We Believe
  • We believe in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as verbally inspired of God, inerrant in the original writings, and of supreme and final authority in faith and life.  II Timothy 3:16II Peter 1:20,21
  • We believe in one God, eternally existing in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Matthew 28:19II Corinthians 13:14
  • We believe that Jesus Christ was begotten by the Holy Spirit, was born of the Virgin Mary and is true God and true man. Luke 1:35John 1:1
  • We believe that man was created in the image of God by His direct act and not from previously existing forms of life; that all men are descended from the historical Adam and Eve, first parents of the entire human race; that man sinned and thereby incurred not only physical death but also that spiritual death which is separation from God; and that all human beings are born with a sinful nature and become sinners in thought, word and deed. Genesis 1:26,27; Romans 5:12
  • We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures as a representative and substitutionary sacrifice and that all who believe in Him are justified on the ground of His shed blood. I Corinthians 15:3; Romans 5:9
  • We believe in the resurrection of the crucified body of our Lord, in His ascension into heaven, and in His present life there for us as High Priest and Advocate. I Corinthians 15:4,20; Luke 24:51; Book of Hebrews
  • We believe in “that blessed hope” – the personal, premillennial and imminent return of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Matthew 24:27,31; I Thessalonians 4:16,17, John 14:3; Titus 2:13
  • We believe that all who receive by faith the Lord Jesus Christ are born again of the Holy Spirit and thereby become the children of God; that they are thereafter indwelt by the Holy Spirit who makes possible a life of personal holiness and a walk of obedience to the will of God; and that all who are truly born again are “kept by the power of God” and, therefore, are incapable of losing their salvation. John 1:12; 3:1-5; 10:28,29; 14:17; I Corinthians 3:166:19; I John 5:1 
  • We believe in the bodily resurrection of the just and the unjust, the everlasting blessedness of the saved, and the everlasting, conscious punishment of the lost. John 5:28,29; Acts 24:15 
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