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Senior Pastor

In the late summer of 1999 Billie W. Dempsey began a work for the Lord. That September, driven with a vision to bridge the generation gap between the young and old, and to restore classic New Testament doctrine to the Lord's church, the twenty-six-year-old pastor founded Higher Ground Bible Fellowship Church at the Western Christian Bookstore in Downtown Oakland.

Higher Ground received its name after Pastor Dempsey read Habakkuk 3:19. The verse encouraged him that no matter the circumstance, the Lord would elevate and give certain comfort and consolation in the midst of the struggle by placing the feet of His followers on higher ground.

After five years of worshipping at the bookstore, Providence moved upon the church to step out and establish a facility of their own at 5925 MacArthur Boulevard. On October 3, 2004 the doors were opened for first worship service at a new location. These were only the beginning of trying times for HGBFC, but the small congregation soldiered-on under the steadfast, Bible-centered teaching of Pastor Billie. Days became weeks, and months, and years, and the Lord was faithful through it all.

In the Fall of 2010 change was in the air. Less than a mile up Seminary Avenue from Higher Ground BFC was the Evangelical Free Church of Oakland, better known as EFCO. This fine church which had been in operation since shortly before WWI was now struggling through difficult times. The members here had for months been without a regular pastor, attendance had been waning, and they were in a quandary over just what to do with the church and its property, nestled tightly up against the grounds of Mills College. The EFCO membership looked to NorthCreek Church in Walnut Creek--a burgeoning local Evangelical Free congregation--for leadership.

Meanwhile, Pastor Billie, who had already built a reputation as a competent preacher and proponent of Reformed theology, had come to the attention of the elders of NorthCreek Church through their Biblical Counseling training program. When EFCO approached NorthCreek with their dilemma, it wasn't long before Billie's name was brought forward as an appropriate candidate as the new pastor. Under God’s providence, Billie was asked to replant his existing congregation to the existing EFCO facility and accepted the offer. As a result, Higher Ground Church was established and held its first service on March 6, 2011.