On the eve of the American Revolution four denominations maintained churches in the city of Albany. These institutions provided spiritual service and real life support for most of the Christian people of the city and in the surrounding countryside as well.

Although each of these churches fundamentally were ethnicity-based, in practice their membership encompassed virtually every element of Albany's social mosaic. They stood in the center of community life. Next to the family, they were the premier social institutions - providing everyday relief, support, and opportunity across the early Albany community.

Churches in Albany before 1776

In 1766, the Albany Corporation authorized a German Reformed Church. However, it does not appear to have sustained services until after the Revolution.

By 1800, a Methodist Church and St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church had commenced operations in the city.

In 1793, membership in Albany churches was set at Dutch Reformed 40%; Presbyterian 30%; Episcopal 20%; and Lutheran, German Calvinist, and Methodist, a total of 10% of the community. In the years, that followed, these denominations branched out into new parishes/congregations and many new sects joined them in the booming nineteenth-century city!


Sources: Some discussion of early Albany churches can be found in virtually all of the books on the city's history. Each of these four denominations has a published history of the church. Each also has a historical archive and history program. These may be accessed under the specific denomination!

We find this online essay by Patricia Bonomi generally interesting and useful to students of eighteenth century religion.

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first posted: 1/4/00; last revised 12/14/11