23 April 2017

Evangelical Protestant Church, Albany, NY

Now that the warmer weather is here and the Albany Grave Digger is back out and about restoring gravestones at the Evangelical Protestant Cemetery on Krumkill Road in Albany. It was decided to post a brief history of the three Evangelical Protestant churches in Albany including the Mother Church for the Krumkill Road cemetery.

In 1817 Europe, Lutheran and Reformed churches in regions under Prussian rule were pressured to unite into a single state church- the Evangelical Church of the Prussian Union. The feat was accomplished by Frederick Wilhelm III (1797-1840). He did not want to contend with the problem of two challenging Protestant faiths. 

German immigrants brought the Evangelical faith to America. In Albany the first worshippers of the Evangelical faith were members of the First Church of the Evangelical German Association, founded by Pastor J. G. Marquardt in 1845. The association was incorporated on January 18, 1847. The first services were held in the Carlton House, on the corner of State and South Pearl Streets. Soon a church, located on Grand Street, between Hudson Avenue and Beaver Street, was purchased for $3,000 on February 13, 1848 and named “The House of Prayer.” 

In 1856 the association relocated again after purchasing a new church located on the corner of Clinton Street and Nucella Street, now Fourth Avenue. Again, the group moved after a new church was erected in 1869 at a cost of $12,000. The new house of worship was located at 8 Elm Street.[1] In 1894 the association opened a mission in the west end of the city on Clinton Avenue near Ontario Street. The mission provided religious services to one hundred twenty-four members. 

Former First Church of the Evangelical German Assoc.
Elm Street, 2003

Former First Church of the Evangelical German Assoc.
Elm Street, early 1900s

Around 1900 the church changed its name to the First Church of the Evangelical Association, dropping German from the title. Circa 1909, the church moved to the corner of Delaware and Cuyler Avenues. Again the congregation changed its name to the Calvary Church of the Evangelical Association. In 1897 the church had four societies associated with it- the Männerverein, the Frauenverein, an Unterstützungverein, and the Young People’s Alliance. Around 1962 Calvary became affiliated with the Evangelical United Brethren of churches (EUB). In 1968 the EUB merged with the United Methodist Churches. 

The second Evangelical parish in Albany was organized as the German Evangelical Protestant Society in 1850. The group held its first religious services in the home of Peter Kunz, at the corner of Bassett and Green Streets. On April 29, 1851, the society was incorporated. Soon the original church, located on the corner of Clinton and Alexander Streets, was completed and dedicated on August 31, 1851. 

Circa 1852, the church basement was converted into a German Parochial school with instruction in German. The school was discontinued on January 1, 1901, due to low attendance. In 1854 the church established a cemetery on Krumkill Road which was originally in the hamlet of Hurstville in the town of Bethlehem.[2] 

On June 5, 1881, the church caught fire and was completely destroyed. A new church was erected and dedicated on June 14, 1882, at a cost of $23,566. 

Evangelical Protestant Church
Clinton & Alexander Streets, 1998

Religious Vereine associated with the parish included the Frauenverein with one hundred fifty members, the Literaturverein with one hundred twenty participants, and Jugendverein, which was established circa 1880.[3] The Pastors held church services strictly in German until the first service of worship in English was held on October 1, 1899. The last examination of a Confirmation class held in German was in 1917, the year the United States declared war on Germany.[4]

The German Evangelical Lutheran Dreienigkeits, or Trinity Church Society was organized on May 30, 1860, and incorporated on July 2, 1860, becoming Albany’s third Evangelical church. Trinity Church was an outgrowth of the Evangelical Protestant Church on Alexander and Clinton Streets. Thirty-two parishioners left the church with Pastor John C. J. Petersen to form Trinity Church. 
Former German Evangelical Lutheran Dreienigkeits Church
58 Alexander Steet, 2003

The original meeting place was located on the southeast corner of Broad and Alexander Streets. In 1878 the congregation relocated when they bought a chapel from the First Presbyterian Church for $4,300, located at 58 Alexander Street. At the church’s inception, German was the only language used during services and in the parochial school. The usage of German during services ceased after 1900 because on March 2, 1899, a number of members from the parishes of Trinity and Saint Matthew’s left their own congregations to form a strictly English language Lutheran Church- Emmanuel Lutheran Church. The new church was also located in the South End on Benjamin Street.[5]

Societies enrolled in Trinity’s parish towards the end of the nineteenth century included the Jugendverein, or Young Men’s Beneficial Society of the Trinity Lutheran Church, with seventy-four members, the Frauenverein, an Unterstützungverein, and the Young Peoples’ Association. On October 19, 1892, Trinity Church Luther-Liga or Luther League was organized under the name Jugendverein, with sixty members.[6] 

Parish societies established at the beginning of the twentieth century included the Ladies Society and the Concordia Maenner-Chor, which was founded on January 20, 1890. By 1897 the singing society counted twenty-eight active and four passive members.[7] 

In 1955 Trinity Church merged with St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, located on the corner of Hurlbut and Garden Streets, to form St. Mark’s Lutheran Church. St. Mark’s merged with the Emmanuel Lutheran Church on Benjamin Street to form the Lutheran Church of the Holy Spirit in 1974. The German Trinity Church has disappeared, but the church building has been owned and employed by the Mount Calvary Baptist Church since 1956.[8]

[1] Arthur James Weise, The History of the City of Albany, New York, From the Discovery of the Great River in 1524, By Verrazzano to the Present Time (Albany: E. H. Bender, 1884), p. 496. n. a., Geschichte der Deutschen in Albany und Troy, pp. 121-123.
[2] Howell and Tenney, eds., History of the County of Albany, N. Y, p. 790.
[3] n. a., Geschichte der Deutschen in Albany und Troy, pp. 83-89.
[4] Clayton F. Reed, History of the Evangelical Protestant Church, 1850-1985. Albany: Evangelical Protestant Church, 1985, pp. 1-4. Weise, The History of the City of Albany, New York, p. 496.
[5] Henry Hardy Heins, Swan of Albany: A History of the Oldest Congregation of the Lutheran Church in America (Rensselaer: Hamilton Printing Company, 1976), p. 126.
[6] n. a., Geschichte der Deutschen in Albany und Troy, p. 189.
[7] n. a., Geschichte der Deutschen in Albany und Troy, p. 177.
[8] n. a. The Story of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church: Its Roots and Its Fruits, 1832-1957 (Albany: n. p., 1957), p. 7. Craig Earl Bartholomew and Henry Hardy Heins, eds., The Lutheran Church of the Holy Cross Centennial, 1876-1976 (Albany: n. p., 1976), pp. 6-12.