Editor’s Note (4/23/2020): Although the building is currently closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Christ’s Church Albany is offering online worship services on Sundays at 10:30am through their website. They are also participating in volunteer initiatives to help the community during this time.
Since hosting their first worship service 7 years ago, Christ’s Church Albany has continued to grow and welcome all people who want to love Jesus, each other, and the world. Today, the church not only has a new home at the First Lutheran Church in Albany, but outside those walls, they are working hard to make a difference in the local community and beyond.
The Story Behind Christ’s Church Albany
Senior pastor Jonathan Hentrich and a small group of friends founded Christ’s Church Albany as a nondenominational church that encourages kindness and community service. In an interview, Hentrich told us, “I worked in Guilderland in 2002, and then I moved to Albany in 2009 and worked for a church there. Many of our friends didn’t go to church at the time and showed no interest in making the trip to one.”
This caused Hentrich to think, “What would it be like to have a church for people with doubts and questions. A church that’s right in the neighborhood so you can easily walk to it and meet with others in the community.” This is how Christ’s Church Albany was born.
In 2013, Hentrich and his group of friends hosted their first monthly church meetings in a home. They soon outgrew this location and began meeting in a hallway at the Sage College of Albany. When the group realized they would need an even bigger place to accommodate everyone, they decided to purchase new tech equipment, hire a small staff, and rent the Albany Elks Lodge’s facility for their weekly Sunday services.
After 7 successful years hosting services at the Elks Lodge, in early 2020, Christ’s Church Albany moved their weekly Sunday services to a spacious church hall at First Lutheran Church in Albany.
Making a Difference in Albany and the World
For Christ’s Church Albany, a church is not a building, it’s a group of people working together to make a difference in the world while leveraging all available resources. They believe a community can be changed not inside a building, but by how people live their lives now and in the future. As such, this new worship space at First Lutheran is an outstanding resource and place where everyone can meet and begin to love Jesus and each other.
In addition, the building will make it easier for them to partner with other local organizations. When 518mutual-aid needed a weekly space to put together meals for people in need in April 2020, Christ’s Church Albany was able to open up their home to them.
Having a permanent space will also allow the church to spend less time setting up equipment before each worship service. This will let them divert those extra man-hours toward local community projects, which is one of the main ways they are trying to transform our world.
Two Churches, One Community
According to Hentrich, what makes this new location unique is that there will be two church meetings happening under one roof. Christ’s Church Albany will host their Sunday morning worship service in the church hall, and First Lutheran Church will continue to have their worship service in the main room.
Even though a brick wall separates the two worship services, there is a strong sense of community among everyone who attends, as they all worship the same God and are coming to the church for the same reason.
From Church Hall to Premier Special Events Space
Now that Christ’s Church Albany is renting this church hall, First Lutheran Church has given them permission to install and keep technology in the room, including a video and sound system. In exchange, First Lutheran Church can rent out the space at other times during the week and let the event host use the technology.
During our interview with Hentrich, he mentioned that “First Lutheran Church always wanted to use their building as a community space, and it was always part of their vision.” Over the years, First Lutheran Church has rented out their church hall for community/nonprofit meetings, choirs, orchestral groups, and others.
Thanks to the new technology, the room will be more accommodating for special events and groups up to 250-300 people in size. It’s the ideal space for everything from wedding rehearsals and receptions to corporate meetings and birthday parties for kids.
To learn more about renting the space for your event, it’s recommended that you call First Lutheran Church directly at 518-463-1326. Or, you can fill out the Contact Form on their website.
What’s Next for Christ’s Church Albany?
In addition to their Sunday services, Christ’s Church Albany manages two groups, Love Albany and Serve Albany. Love Albany focuses on presenting fun community events in the local area, and Serve Albany connects volunteers with Albany nonprofits. You can get involved with both on Christ’s Church Albany’s website.
For 6 years, the church also hosted an annual event titled “Ignite Volunteer Festival,” which allowed visitors to meet with a wide range of nonprofits and learn about volunteer opportunities. Starting in 2020, this event will be transformed into five mini-festivals highlighting different types of organizations, such as arts & culture, poverty, education, and health and wellness. The first mini-festival is being planned for September 2020, and more details will become available later in the year.
When asked what he’s most excited about for the worship/community event space, Hentrich said, “Finding the right place can be a limiting factor for people looking to host an event. This is a really great room that’s relatively cheap with a lot of flexibility.”