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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, April 14, 2011

Parishioners to “unleash compassion on the world”

By Anne Hayden

GUILDERLAND — Several churches will leave the building on the weekend of April 30.

As part of an initiative started in 2006 at Christ’s Church of the Capital District, five Guilderland churches — Hamilton Union Presbyterian Church, McKownville United Methodist Church, Lynnwood Reformed Church, and St. Boniface Episcopal Church, as well as Christ’s Church — will participate in a total of 18 service projects throughout the community.

The initiative is called The Church Has Left the Building.

“This is a way to show love to the community we work with,” said Brian Rutherford, pastor of Christ’s Church, who helped found the program. Christ’s Church was the only participating church until 2010, when other churches from the Guilderland Ecumenical Council decided to join in.

The Guilderland Ecumenical Council is a network of churches of all denominations.

“People tend to think the church is on the margins of society, and we wanted to show the community how much we care,” said Rutherford, who has been at Christ’s Church since 1997. The church has approximately 335 members, and he said he expects at least 200 people to volunteer during The Church Has Left the Building.

Several of the scheduled projects will be taking place right in Guilderland, including highway clean-ups on Route 155 and Western Avenue; a Guilderland food pantry collection; and a hymn sing at Mercy Care Nursing Home.

The churches will also partner with outside community organizations to provide service to those in need. Community Caregivers will be pairing volunteers with seniors who need help with yard work and other household chores.

Outside of Guilderland, volunteers will help organize an Easter egg hunt in Arbor Hill in downtown Albany, and rehabilitate a house in Arbor Hill for a foster family, among other things.

“A church is about much more than what goes on inside its own walls,” Rutherford concluded. “This is our way to unleash compassion on the world.”  He said he hoped the weekend would serve as a “springboard” for continuing community service throughout the year.

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