The First Congregational Church and Society of Albany was formed on December 15, 1849. The Rev. Ray Palmer, noted theologian, scholar and poet, was called as the first pastor. Shortly after its establishment, the church played host to a key meeting, the 1852 “Albany Convention” of the national Congregational church. This congress is considered pivotal to the establishment of the current national Congregational church.
In 1917, First Congregational Church took the proactive step of relocating and becoming the first church to locate in the growing "Woodlawn" neighborhood. The present church building was erected at 405 Quail Street and designed by noted architect Albert W. Fuller who had been a member of the chuch in the late 19th century.
In 1956, Second Congregational Christian Church, which had been founded as First Christian Church, joined First Congregational, bringing together Christians from the great Congregational and Christian traditions.
Rev. Palmer's best known hymn is "My Faith Looks Up to Thee" which he wrote one day when he was particularly troubled over the direction of his life. He scribbled some words of hope and faith on a piece of paper and carried them with him until composer Lowell Mason discovered Palmer's notes and set the words to music.
The sanctuary is dedicated as a memorial to Palmer. His portrait is in the narthex and Palmer Hall. A book of his poetry is in Hampton Lounge.