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 living in the city and for those 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 1793, membership in Albany churches was estimated at Dutch Reformed 40%; Presbyterian 30%; Episcopal 20%; and Lutheran, German Calvinist, and Methodist, a total of 10% of the overall membership.
In 1822, a newspaper reported that thirteen separate congregations were operating in the city and distinguished them as follows: Episcopalian, 1; Dutch Reformed, 2; Presbyterian, 4; Reformed Presbyterian, 1; Lutheran, 1; Roman Catholic, 1; Methodist, 1; Baptist, 1; First African, 1; Baptist African, 1. At that time, Albany's population numbered about 14,000 residents.
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!
first posted 1/4/00; last revised 8/19/18