03 July 2017

German Reformed Church in Albany

A brief history of the German Reformed Church in Albany follows:

The roots of the German Reformed Church date back to Revolutionary times in Albany.  At this time, the majority of city residents were members of the Dutch Reformed Church.  To describe the early beginnings of the German Reformed Church, Munsell wrote, 
The fifth church built [in Albany] was erected by a band of German [Reformed] emigrants in Arbor Hill, some time prior to 1794.  [The edifice was probably built earlier; according to an advertisement published in the Albany Gazette from 1772 relating to the German Reformed Church.]  It was a small building, [approximately fifty feet square, with a tower at the north entrance, furnished with a bell,] constructed of wood, and resembled an ordinary dwelling house of that day, [located between Orange and Patroon (Clinton Avenue) Streets, west of Ten Broeck Street.]  The services were conducted in the German tongue, and the singers were aided by an organ, the first used for religious worship in this city… This church, unlike all the others, [of its time] appears to have dwindled out [entirely, in 1803,] and left no mark behind it, [due to an increase of Yankee migration into Albany.] [1]

86 Schuyler Street church in 2003

German Reformed worship later reappeared in the city as the German Reformed Protestant Dutch Church. Reverend Herman F. Schnellendruessler from the CTS organized the church on October 1, 1855. The congregation held services in the CTS mission house, at 51 Rensselaer Street, until they bought the German Methodist Church, at 86 Schuyler Street, and the rectory, at 84 Schuyler Street, in May 1858. In 1867 the church changed its name to the Fourth Reformed Church. The church was utilized until the congregation outgrew it and replaced it with a newer and larger edifice. On March 12, 1893, the new church was dedicated.

Parish Vereine included the Frauen-Missionsverein, established in June 1888, the Jungendverein, and the Senior and Junior Christian Endeavor Societies, which aided in building strong religious foundations.[2] In 1945, the Fifth Reformed Church, located at 153 Jay Street, merged with the Fourth Reformed Church. The merged church moved to its new and present location at 760 New Scotland Avenue in 1953. The merged church was named Bethany Reformed Church. 

Pastors of the German Reformed Church

Herman F. Schnellendruessler, 1855-64
Jacob F. Neef, 1866-88
Dr. Heinrich Miller, 1888-98
Frederick Mueller, 1899-1945

Frederick Mueller
Long-time Pastor of German Reformed Church
& Albany High School German language teacher

 

[1] Munsell, Collections on the History of Albany from its Discovery to the Present Time, Volume II, pp. 386-387. Joel Munsell, Annals of Albany (Albany: J. Munsell, 1869), pp. 166-167. Thomas Reimer, German-Americans in Albany (Albany: Ten Broeck Mansion flier, 2000), p. 2. Reimer, “Ethnicity in Albany, N. Y., 1888-1908,” p. 28.
[2] Tony Opalka, History of the Church Building at 86 Schuyler Street (Albany).n. a., Geschichte der Deutschen in Albany und Troy, pp. 103-109.