New church to open in former convent

The Enterprise — Jo E. Prout

Sunlight streams through amber glass at Restoration Hill Ministry, a new church opening at the former convent on New Scotland Road.

NEW SCOTLAND — Pastor Mae Boyer hopes that her new church will open — and stay open — at a site that has changed hands many times; the former convent-turned-restaurant-bar on New Scotland Road is now the Restoration Hill Ministry church.

“It’s a dream. It’s a vision. It’s going to take time, but it’s so doable,” Boyer said. The dream includes a new industrial kitchen and a banquet room to train at-risk youth in culinary and hospitality skills, a game room and additional barn-converted-to-youth center, a peaceful meditation room, a meeting room, and a basketball court.

By July, Boyer’s application to open the church and put up a sign should be complete, and Sunday morning worship services will begin at 10 a.m., she said. Boyer is renting the building, which has two apartments attached in the rear, but she plans to purchase the property and keep the apartments. The church, as a not-for-profit organization, is seeking federal grants to buy the building outright.

Boyer leads Restoration Hill Ministry, a non-denominational Christian church that moved to New Scotland when the property the church used for eight years in Glenmont was sold to an Albany church. She is bringing with her to New Scotland ministries she did on a smaller scale in Glenmont that she hopes to expand.

“This place can facilitate the bigger dream, the vision of what we have,” Boyer said.

 

Work experience for at-risk youth is on tap for Restoration Hill Ministry in a banquet hall above the church sanctuary, according to Pastor Mae Boyer. The Enterprise — Jo E. Prout


 

Programs

Boyer spoke about many of her ministries for children, for the sick, and for disadvantaged youth off the record; on the record, she said of the process of moving her congregation, “The whole thing has been fun for me. I just love the Lord, and the people here. I do a lot with the youth.”

Boyer works with young people from Albany and Schenectady, and transports them to church on Sundays. She gives them plain-spoken advice about how to keep their lives on-track, and offers events and outings for boys, girls, and mixed groups.

In the new building, the basement is being converted to a recording studio for the church’s youth.

“It gives them something good and positive,” Boyer said. “We want to set it up for them.”

Isaiah Morant, 21, who lives in one of the apartments, plays five instruments, Boyer said. Morant works with the youth at the church and teaches them music, she said.

“I have a fantastic worship team,” Boyer said. The church uses contemporary music, she said. Her granddaughter, 19, has played keyboard for the church for six years, Boyer said.

A young man from Schenectady has played drums for the church for three years, she said.

“We paid for his drum lessons,” she said. “He’s an awesome kid.”

Boyer hopes to use the recording studio at the church as a draw for another ministry — a banquet hall upstairs above the sanctuary.

She envisions offering children’s recording-studio parties or other events in the bright, open space using youth from a one-year program she hopes to offer to students who have dropped out of school.

After a year with her, she said, they each have work experience and a reference to go out and get a job. The students she helps have “no goals, no dreams — this is what we want to give them,” Boyer said. “This piece of property could facilitate that for the kids.”

The program would not be residential, she said; the church has a van it uses to pick up kids who attend services.

 

Taking a wide view, Pastor Mae Boyer looks out between the old farmhouse and the newer block-construction of the religious building at New Scotland Road, where previous inhabitants have run restaurants and bars. The Enterprise — Jo E. Prout

 

House history

The house has a long history; town historian Robert Parmenter told The Enterprise that Albertus Becker was the original owner in the 1800s. The Becker family owned land from the New Scotland Road building all the way to the tiny hamlet of Font Grove in Slingerlands.

From the 1920s to the 1940s, the home was rented by Theodore and Lottle Furman, who operated a dairy there and lived across the street, Parmenter said. The Becker family, including Annie Becker who married Charles Bender, of Bender melon fame, continued to own the property, Parementer said.

In 1959, the home was rented by the St. Joseph Novitiate, Parementer said. The nuns who lived there changed the front of the building in 1960 to the way it looks today.

“They were there until 1972,” he said.

“Then, it became the Heavenly Inn,” the first of several restaurants to occupy the space, he said.

 

“Faith, Hope, Love,” is printed on the hearth mat in a room Pastor Mae Boyer plans to use for prayer and counseling sessions at Restoration Hill Ministry on New Scotland Road. The Enterprise — Jo E. Prout

 

Positive remodeling

Boyer wants to remodel an old barn on the property into a youth center, to encompass sports and music.

“It will be a place so they feel secure and safe in a good, positive atmosphere, and receive some good, positive input into their life,” Boyer said.

The church will soon install a basketball hoop at the rear of the property, she said, and an anonymous donor has volunteered to pave the court.

The church building holds a game room for younger students, she said, where they are also offered snacks or meals.

“A lot of them come from broken lives. They do. We create safety, calmness, and love, and that love comes from the Lord, Jesus Christ. It really does,” Boyer said. “We feed them. Some of the kids come in and haven’t eaten.”

On Sundays, children are welcome to stay after the service and spend the day at the church, she said, noting that the church did the same at its previous site.

The non-denominational church has about 30 members, she said.

“We just believe in the Bible and God’s Word, and we live it,” Boyer said. “I have a core of people who have been with me for eight years who believe in the vision.”

Boyer takes kids up to a camp on Sacandaga Lake for retreats, “to get out of the city,” she said, “and they see something differently.”

Soon, she will escort several youth members to Soulfest in New Hampshire.

“They will be meeting kids from all over the United States. It’s a wonderful time of fellowship,” she said.

Boyer said that she wants the church to “be a viable part of the community to help people.”

By this fall, she said, she hopes to offer a faith-based Alcoholics Anonymous meeting at the church once each week.

 

The new Restoration Hill Ministry church in New Scotland offers warm country comfort and contemporary services with drums, keyboard, and a projection screen in the main room that once housed a bar. The Enterprise — Jo E. Prout

 

New perspective

Restoration Hill Ministry is a combination structure, with a block building used as a religious site added onto an old farmhouse, with attached apartments. With stained glass windows and arches, the entry and the sanctuary are not cold or drab.

“I love to decorate,” Boyer said. Her country-style touches are evident on walls and windows, and her home — an old farmhouse in Voorheesville — is decorated similarly, she said.

People tell her, “You’ve brought your personality into this,” Boyer said.

“I hate darkness, and an uncozy feeling,” she said. “God created us with a sense of humor. There’s laughter and joy and peace. You can bring it into your life.”

In the sanctuary, and throughout the church building, Boyer used “warm, cozy, and peaceful things for people to feel comfortable in it,” she said.

The entry holds a sign: “Welcome Friends.” The sign, Boyer said, is for friends she has now, and for friends she will have in the future. The whole building echoes the feeling of her counseling room — a parlor in the old farmhouse.

The room is “peaceful, calm, for people who want to come in and talk,” she said. She plans to bring in air diffusers to give the room a “soothing, relaxing atmosphere,” she said, “to create that atmosphere of peace.”

The church is still dealing with less peaceful issues, like leaking pipes and new Sheetrock, Boyer said.

“The Lord makes the provision,” she said. “The Lord makes a plan. It all falls into place.”

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