New church to make ‘impact’

While Center City Church could be considered a non-denominational church, Pastor Jim Kilmartin said a more appropriate way to define the church would be to say it’s a “life-giving” church that aims to see the Kingdom of God demonstrated on Earth as it is in Heaven.

That new “life-giving” church will be launched this weekend, with special services celebrating its official opening in the former Pleasant Valley Assembly of God building, located behind Dean Patterson along Pleasant Valley Boulevard.

Services begin at 7 p.m. tonight at the church, 801 Pleasant Valley Blvd., Altoona. The service will include praise and worship and the vision of Center City Church. On Saturday, pastors and community leaders are invited to talk, pray and strategize on how to impact the community. “Impacting Our Communities Together” will begin at 10 a.m. with breakfast, followed by the Rev. Bart Pierce and the Rev. Tony Barboza from Baltimore’s Rock City Church sharing how they have affected the city. The event will wrap up at noon. Easter Sunday service will begin at 10:30 a.m. with Kilmartin sharing the message “There is Hope.”

“Over the last several years, we have heard the Lord calling us to plant a church in Altoona,” said Kilmartin, who started Joshua House in Tyrone in 1998. Kilmartin said he will continue to be involved in the teen outreach center, but has expanded his focus for community revitalization into the Altoona area, opening Center City Church in the fall.

Kilmartin, who has been an ordained minister since 1998 and became ordained through Rock City Church Fellowship a year and a half ago, said his heart and passion is in central Pennsylvania.

“God’s been stirring my heart and my wife’s heart” to start a church, Kilmartin said, adding he and his wife, Jessica, felt called to minister to people in the Altoona area.

“I specifically know God called me to Altoona to be a part of rebuilding the city and the church,” he said. “We feel we’re called to be a part of that renaissance.”

The local Center City Church is part of the Rock City Church Fellowship, a network of churches throughout the country, with church plantings throughout the world, Kilmartin said.

As part of the weekend’s services, Pierce will speak about the church’s activities in Baltimore, where they work with communities, other churches and officials to revitalize and renew the city.

“For the past eight years, we’ve taken a team to Baltimore to work there for a week on service projects,” Kilmartin said. During those projects, volunteers would renovate a row house. “We’d fix it up and give it away at the end of week to someone who has never had a house,” he said, noting it’s just one of the many projects the Baltimore church has done to make an impact in the city and something he hopes can be replicated in Altoona, as well.

Kilmartin, who has experience coaching basketball and running a business as well as his work with Joshua House, feels Altoona is in need of rebuilding.

“I believe the church is supposed to be a positive impact in society,” he said, noting the church can have a positive influence on business, education, government, families, the arts, entertainment and recreation — basically all aspects of life.

Center City Church takes to heart the Lord’s Prayer, Kilmartin said, particularly the portion that states “On Earth as it is in Heaven.”

“We want to see God’s kingdom impact everything,” Kilmartin said of the couple’s dream for the future.

Through Center City Church, the Kilmartins hope to make an positive impact on the city, the community and area residents.

“We want to reach people in the city,” he said. “The affluent and those that aren’t.”

Kilmartin said he, Jessica and other church leaders are seeking to reach “people who have maybe been disconnected from God and church, and people who have never been to church.”

“We want to reach people who are hungry for God, who are passionate about God,” he added.

The target audience is “everyone. … young, old, rich, poor … we want to reach people from the cradle to the grave.”

In an effort to attract people from all walks of life, Center City Church services are “come as you are,” Kilmartin said. “It’s very casual if you want.”

The Kilmartins have six children — the oldest is 15 and the youngest is 5 — and while Jim knows children are pulled in multiple directions at once through opportunities in sports, dance, travel, school and other extracurricular activities, church is important, too.

“We don’t have as much of a regard for Sunday morning” as people did years ago, he said, wondering what people put first as their priority today.

Making a personal connection to people is the best way to make an impact, Kilmartin said. “You can get messages through the internet, TV and online,” he agrees, but those types of services are “not connecting to the people.”

“We want to build a community of believers who gather together,” he said. “We love God, we love people and we want to make a difference. Gathering a community of believers who walk that out. … who want to make a difference” is the aim of Center City Church.

To improve Altoona and the lives of the people living here, Kilmartin feels it’s important to work with other churches and organizations.

“To reach the city it takes us working together. That’s an important thing. I’m a connector and I love to connect things and people. I look forward to connecting.”