The History and Archives Committee was formed in 2016 to promote awareness within our congregation and the surrounding community, of the long and rich history of the Niskayuna Reformed Church as a place of worship and fellowship. The committee seeks to remember and honor the individuals and groups who have faithfully served our congregation. It is by taking the time today to look at the past that we can best plan for the future.
Origins of the Niskayuna Reformed Church
The Reformed Protestant Dutch Church of Niskayuna seems to have its beginnings about 1750 under the authority of the Classis of Amsterdam, Holland. Services were first held in a “Gebed Huis” or Prayer House that was used on the Sabbath for services and on the weekdays as a schoolhouse. It was located just below the hill, near the river, near the intersection of Rosendale and River Roads. The congregation was served by a variety of travelling ministers and lay people who would lead in the prayers and the singing of Psalms. In 1760 a new edifice was built on the same spot. It was a square building with a four sided roof running up to a point in the middle. It was served by a number of traveling ministers, the most frequent from 1760 to 1790 by the Rev. Samson Occum, a Mohican Indian from Connecticut. In 1790 the church ordained its first permanent minister, the Rev. John Demarest.
The 1760 building served until 1828 when new property was purchased on the Troy Road. The new church, dedicated on March 6, 1829, was a very plain frame building designed by the Albany Architect Phillip Hooker. The church was badly constructed by the builders and was replaced by the current brick edifice in 1852.
General Areas of Responsibility
The History and Archives committee will consist of two sub-committees to focus on specific activities:
- Planning Subcommittee: will plan events and pursue grants to fund the work of the committee
- Archives Subcommittee: will manage the collections of documents and artifacts for storage and display
- Gather, evaluate, organize, preserve and maintain historical church documents and artifacts
- Safely store historic documents and materials in an organized system, making them accessible for staff and church members to locate information when needed
- Properly display and exhibit historical church documents and artifacts at suitable occasions
- Plan events that will celebrate the roots and heritage of our church
- Raise funds for the proper archival preservation of church documents
The committee is building on the work of dedicated members who came before. The main committee meets monthly; subcommittees meet as needed to address specific projects.
Members of the History and Archives Committee
- Consistory Co-Chair: Scott Haefner
- Secretary/Treasurer: Judy Henery
- Committee Members: Joyce Anderson, Mary Counsell, Trudy Lehner, Mary Park-Flanders, Sharon Rice-Herbst, Paul Russell, Nancy Stopera, Paul Szakats, Barbara Valenti