Our team arrived for the 10 am meeting and celebration at Redeemer’s Albany Campus on Schoolhouse Road, conveniently located at the end of the Northway. I had heard from several people that Redeemer “knows how to do church” and they weren’t wrong. Albany Campus Pastor Scott Packard leads a strong team, all working together for the cause of Christ. This modern facility has a relaxed, casual atmosphere with many teens and families, and a fair amount of senior citizens; all signs of a healthy, growing fellowship of believers. The worship team was outstanding, comprised mostly of teens and young adults. I especially loved hearing two classic hymns – “Christ the Lord is Risen Today” and “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross”. These modernized versions of old hymns are conducive to UNITY among the generations.
Following the worship, announcements were done with professional video presentations that segued into Pastor Michael Servello’s message on one of my favorite topics, ”GIVING”. Three points he focused on were 1) Giving was one of the greatest indicators of a spiritual life, 2) Giving was a demonstration of trust and 3) Giving is a response of gratitude. We honor God with our giving. It’s not about the money, it’s about the condition of your heart. Don’t give out of guilt, but give out of gratitude. What we give says a lot about who we are and what we believe.
Jesus in His prayer for UNITY in John 17 said many things He felt were of the greatest importance since He was about to be crucified and leave this earth returning once again to God His Father. He spoke of UNITY in verses 21-26 and He resurrected from the grave so we could have it. UNITY will never be achieved until we begin to learn how to “Give”. Jesus gave us everything. Giving is a demonstration of Love and only Love will bring UNITY. That’s the mandate, vision and mission of Church Journey blogs and the Upstate New York Ministry Network.
As Pastor Michael closed in prayer, he invited people to say it with him. He prefaced it by stating that we are never saved by a prayer, but by God’s grace and God’s grace is made manifest through the Gospel. (Romans 1:16) The Gospel “is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes . . .” He encouraged those who wanted Jesus to raise their hands. The response was heartening. Then there was a time of prayer at the altar while others made their way out into the café for coffee and fellowship.
A huge strength in Albany Redeemer Church is their vision to reach the next generation with the Good News. There is a significant population of teens and a strong youth program that includes outreaches to the local student populations. Specifically, they have been targeting college students at Albany area campuses. They have youth and young adult services on Fridays at 7 pm with two groups – one for 6-8th graders, and the other is for high school, college and young adults. They invest a lot of time and resources into youth programs with a fulltime staff of pastors; youth and young adults pastor, Jacob Milea and junior high and children’s pastor, Rob Martin. Redeemer also sponsors “Encounter”, an annual youth conference that draws youth from all over the Northeast.
Redeemer is committed to giving a minimum of 10% of their annual budget to International Missions. They support several missionaries financially and are most directly involved with TEARS (www.tears.org) in the Dominican Republic. Every August they send a group of mostly youth to support these missionaries, doing work projects, working with the children and evangelizing neighborhoods. Redeemer’s Albany Campus also reaches out to their local community. They work closely with 5 Albany Elementary Schools in many ways including their backpack program and “This is Christmas”, a program to reach needy families to help them celebrate the Christmas holiday.
Redeemer Church is one church with several locations in New York State including Albany, Rome, Utica, Syracuse, as well as their International Campus in Utica, demonstrating a microcosm of the UNITY Christ intends for His Church in toto. Redeemer’s International Campus reaches out to a large population of immigrants, holding services for Nepali and Burmese refugees. What an aggressive agenda!
It is clear to see how Redeemer Church fits into the Body of Churches in the Capital Region. This church gives unselfishly to the work that God has called them to. Pastor Michael’s message on Giving is faithfully put into action. They are giving with gratitude, beyond their 4 walls, and God is pouring out a blessing on them that they cannot contain. A UNIFIED Church will be the fruit of their loving generosity. (Romans 17:23) “I in them and thou in Me, that they may be perfected in UNITY, that the world may know . . .”
Church Website – http://www.redeemer.tv
By Donna Hansen Munafo
(Contributing writer Michael Frati)