First Congregational Church of Albany
First Congregational Church of Albany

The Albany Congregational Convention of 1852

Under the leadership of the Rev. Palmer, First Congregational Church played a prominent role in the national growth and organization of Congregationalism in the early 19th century.

 

Between October 5 and 8, 1852, First Congregational Church hosted an event of historic importance. The First Council or Synod, representative of American Congregationalism as a whole, that had met since the Cambridge, England, meeting in 1646, took place in “the old brick (Congregational) church.” This was the third general convention of the Congregational Churches of America but the first convention held since colonial times.

 

The meeting, known as the Albany Convention, was composed of four hundred and sixty-three pastors, delegated from seventeen states and Canada, called by the General Association of New York “to examine the denominational situation.” The Convention was attended by Lyman and Henry Ward Beecher, two nationally known Congregational clergymen.

 

Spirited debates regarding the slavery question and “the plan of union” between the Congregational and Presbyterian Churches took place. It was at this meeting that the plan of union was terminated to “the mutual satisfaction of both bodies.” A fund of $50,000 was raised for "extension work." The American Congregational Union, later called the Congregational Church Building Society, had its inception in this church. The Convention was also significant for the city of Albany itself, as it placed the city on the front stage of the national and international audiences. The Convention was so significant to the city, that the Common Council of the city ordered that “tan bark be placed around the church during the sitting of the members to deaden the noise caused by the rumble of cart wheels over the cobblestone pavements.” 

 

An amusing story of this convention is told in The Argus for October 7, 1852. “While the committee was selecting officers, the chair read a communication from the New York City Chief of Police, stating that a delegation of pickpockets had left the night before, by boat, to attend the conference. They imitated the clergy in their dress, wearing white neckcloths. It caused much amusement and one delegate suggested that they send a vote of commiseration to the gentlemen coming up today who think to get anything out of a body of ministers.”
 

The “Albany Convention” has been regarded as significant for giving the Congregational Churches a national consciousness.

Worship Service is held at 10:30am every Sunday and is followed by our Coffee Fellowship

 

405 Quail Street

Albany, New York 12208

(518) 482-4580

1stcongalbany@gmail.com

We are an open and affirming congregation. All are welcome!

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