Plans are underway to reopen a historic local church, closed several years ago when its congregation dwindled.Now, a new group of worshippers hopes to make the old church a center for the community.
A local pastor started Center Community Church in Altoona, a little over two years ago, and since then it’s grown to about 200 members. The church currently holds worship services in a rented building on Pleasant Valley Boulevard.
But, the congregation recently bought the former First United Methodist Church in downtown Altoona. It’s was shuttered about eight years ago, when its congregation dwindled.
In the next year or so, its stunning stained glass windows may become familiar sights to new worshippers.
The establishment of a center city church has been a vision of Pastor Jim Kilmartin, who founded Joshua House for youth in Tyrone,
“A few years ago, God spoke to me about coming to Altoona to start a church, to plant a church,” he explained.
On Wednesday, Pastor Kilmartin and members of his congregation toured the old church. They plan to keep the sanctuary much the same, but hope to modernize the kitchen and other areas, so that the community can benefit from them.
He said, “We want to be a city church that impacts the city, that becomes a blessing to the business community, a blessing to the arts community, to the government, and when I look at what the church is supposed to be that’s who we are.”
It’ll be an expensive proposition to restore the church, but Pastor Kilmartin said God will make provision for it. He expects to hold the first services there, sometime next year.