First Reformed Church was established on November 21, 1818 as the North Branch of the Reformed Protestant Dutch Church of the City of Schenectady. But our true beginning was in 1814 when Gerard Beekman of New York City moved his family to Scotia to escape an expected British bombardment. They lived with Mrs. Beekman’s brothers, Robert and Jacob Sanders, whose home was on Mohawk Avenue directly opposite Collins Street. Here the Beekmans began to gather neighbors for prayer meetings and Bible study.
This group attracted the attention of the Rev. Andrew Yates of Union College who encouraged them to become a congregation. In 1818 they did, and began making plans for a sanctuary on a piece of the Sanders’ apple orchard that was donated for the church. Today that site is grassy lawn on the north side of Church Street east of the church’s parsonage — the white house on the northeast corner of Church Street and Ballston Avenue. (The parsonage itself was built in 1870, and, today, is the home of the Samaritan Counseling Center of the Capital Region.) Building was slow, but the people were eager. Even before the building was ready, the congregation sometimes worshipped within its roofless walls. The wood frame structure was finally dedicated in July, 1822.
In 1830 the church reported 100 families; by 1903 it reported 160 families. In June, 1904 a new brick sanctuary was dedicated between the original sanctuary and the parsonage. The old structure was remodeled and incorporated into the new building as a parish house. The congregation prospered. But early on the morning of December 28, 1943 a fire gutted both the sanctuary and parish house. Only the parsonage was spared.
The next year the congregation purchased an adjacent piece of land overlooking Collins Lake. A carriage house near our present Green Shed was converted into a sanctuary, and an old mansion called the Lake Hill House was remodeled for fellowship, education and office space. In April, 1951 the congregation laid the cornerstone of our present sanctuary just north of the Lake Hill House. One year later, on Palm Sunday 1952, our congregation worshipped inside its walls for the first time. In 1958, the congregation dedicated the new fellowship and office building we call Brink Hall. In 1968 the Lake Hill House itself was razed and our present Education Wing constructed, connecting the sanctuary and Brink Hall.
Today First Reformed Church is working hard to be faithful to our calling: To be a fellowship of people, each called by God and empowered by the Holy Spirit, to be disciples of Jesus Christ and instruments of his presence in the world.
We invite you to join us for worship any Sunday morning at 8 am or 10 am, and consider walking the Way of Christ with us.