On December 4, 1953, The Reverend Brooks Patten was appointed by the North Carolina Conference "to organize a new church in West Raleigh to be known as Ridgewood Methodist Church." On January 14, 1954, this new church had its beginnings with the appointment of the Committee on Church Locations by the Raleigh Board of Missions and Church Extension. This committee selected a site, which was later purchased for the new church by the Raleigh Board of Missions, on the corner of Ridge Road and Lewis Farm Road.
The first worship service was held on May 2, 1954, in the Frances Lacy Elementary School located on the corner of Ridge Road and Lake Boone Trail. Regular services were held in the school until January 1958. On July 21, 1954, the first quarterly conference of the new church was held after a family picnic on the church property at Ridge Road and Lewis Farm Road. Ninety-nine charter members were reported. In September 1954, the church was named Highland Methodist Church.
The lots on the corner of Ridge Road and Lewis Farm Road were seen to be inadequate. This led, in the fall of 1954, to the purchase of the present site consisting of 2.7 acres on the corner of Ridge Road and Lake Boone Trail. The former lots were sold as a part of the transaction.
Early in 1955, Harold E. Wagoner of Philadelphia was selected as the church architect and through the work of planning committees involving virtually the entire congregation, Plans were developed for a four-stage building project consisting of the Fellowship Hall and Chapel, a Church School unit, a youth wing, and a Sanctuary. Ground was broken for construction of the Fellowship Hall and Chapel on February 27, 1957, with Bishop Paul N. Garber presiding. The building was completed in January 1958, at a cost of approximately $100,000. Funds for this first unit included gifts of $15,000 and $1,500 from the North Carolina Conference Board of Missions ($10 Club) and from the National Board of Missions, respectively.
The year 1968 marked the merger of the Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren, and resulted in the adoption of the name, Highland United Methodist Church.
At the Annual Conference in 1975, Highland Church was the recipient of The Church of the Year Award, awarded to churches with membership of 1000 or more. The Highland Service Project, a local outreach ministry, was established in July 1985. In September 1987, while celebrating its first homecoming Sunday, the mortgage on the sanctuary was burned!
Gary Bailey of Innovative Design in Raleigh designed the $2.7 million project which called for the renovation of all existing facilities other than the Sanctuary and the construction of a large, new building with a fellowship hall/gymnasium that would seat over 400 people for a meal, a state-of-the-art commercial kitchen, several classrooms, and an elevator. The new building was tied into the existing facilities with a handsome Breezeway and Courtyard. Crucial to this endeavor was the commitment early on by Hawkins and Jean Bradley of a gift of $1 million. To honor this gift and the many other acts of generous leadership given by the Bradley family, the new building was named the Bradley Activities Center and was consecrated in September, 1992.
In November, 1998, the installation of a new Cassavant Organ for the sanctuary was completed at a cost of $427,000, and the dedication service was held in January 1999.
Completed early in 2000, Highland now houses a memorial garden consisting of a columbarium and memorial tablet to be built in front of the church building facing Ridge Road.
In 2004, Highland celebrated 50 years of ministry. In that time, not only have the facilities, budget, and membership grown, but so has Highland’s commitment to spiritual growth, discipleship, mission and outreach. Countless Highland disciples have completed programs like Disciple Bible Study, Companions in Christ, and Christian Believer. Beginning in 1989, Highland has raised funds and helped to construct several Habitat Houses. Mission teams have been sent into our local community, to the mountains of Appalachia, and abroad to destinations like Jamaica and Guyana. Highland continues to grow in grace and in its commitments to outreach and service.