CHRIST CHURCH (EPISCOPAL)
COLUMBIA COUNTY, NEW YORK
By Captain Franklin Ellis138
The first formation of a religious society by the Episcopalians in Hudson took place soon after the year 1790, but the precise date of their church organization cannot be given. About the commencement of 1795 the society began to move in the matter of providing for themselves a permanent house of worship, and to that end, in March of that year, their vestrymen, Dr. John Talman and Mr. John Powell, made a formal petition or request to the proprietors that a suitable lot of land should be granted to them on which to erect the proposed edifice. A committee, consisting of Thomas Jenkins, David Lawrence, and Alexander Coffin, was empowered by the proprietors to confer with the vestrymen, and to decide on a lot to be given to this society, in accordance with the generous usage established as the rule of their dealings with religious denominations.
The wardens made selection of a lot, but desiring afterwards to change it, were permitted to do so, and then decided on the lot on the southeast corner of Second and State streets, which was conveyed to them for the society, for the erection of a church building upon it, and for no other use.
The house was commenced during 1795, but, on account of a lack of funds (mainly caused by the dishonesty of a fiduciary in whom the society had reposed perfect confidence), it was not completed until seven years had passed. The lot had been granted on the condition that if a church should not be erected upon it within the space of five years it should revert to the proprietors, but those liberal-minded men had no thought of profiting by the church's adversity. The edifice was first occupied for the Christmas services of 1802, and the rite of consecration was performed by the Right Rev. Bishop Moore in October, 1803. The first renting of pews took place about the same time, and produced nearly the sum of three hundred dollars. Prior to their occupation of this building the society had met for worship in the old school-house on Diamond street.
The first rector of this church was the Rev. Mr. Gardner, who was succeeded in the sacred office by the Rev. Bethel Judd, who came about the close of the last century, and received salary of $300 per annum. It was during his rectorship that the incorporation of the church was effected. May 5, 1802, the male members of the church met to take measures to secure such incorporation (under the act of March 27, 1801), and to elect two church-wardens and eight vestrymen. The Rev. Mr. Judd presided. John Powell and Hezekiah L. Hosmer were elected wardens, and John Talman, Henry Malcolm, Chester Belding, John Kemper, Henry Dibble, Richard Bolles, James Hyatt, and James Nixon, Jr., vestrymen. These and their successors were incorporated as "The Rector, Wardens, and Vestry of Christ Church in the city of Hudson," and the incorporation was certified and recorded the following day, May 6, 1802.
It was also during Mr. Judd's ministry--in 1803--that a charity school was established under the auspices of the church; sermons being preached monthly in its behalf, and collections being taken on these occasions for it s support. As many as forty scholars at one time received instruction by these means. The object was a noble and benevolent one particularly for that early time, when, and for years afterwards in the city of Hudson, little or no thought seems to have been given by the public to the free education of the children of the poor. The society also organized a Sunday-school at so early a date that it is said to have been the first one formed in the State, outside the city of New York.
The successors of Mr. Judd in the rectorship during the next half-century were the Revs. Prentice, Cooper, H. Croswell, Bedell, Stebbins, Andrews, Cairns, Pardee, Babbitt, Isaac N. Tuttle, and William Watson. Mr. Watson resigned in March, 1862, and the Rev. George F. Seymour became rector October 1, in the same year. He resigned October 3, 1863, was succeeded, May 1, 1864, by the Rev. William Ross Johnson. After him came the Revs. Curtis T. Woodruff, May 1, 1870; Theodore Babock, May 15, 1872; and Robert E. Terry (the present rector), in January, 1876.
The society's present house of worship, a large stone edifice of remarkable symmetry, and occupying a beautiful site upon the southeastern corner of East Court and Union streets, was completed in 1857, and was consecrated in October of that year by the Right Rev. Bishop Potter. The cost of this church, including that of the lots on which the chapel and rectory have since been erected, was about $30,000.
During the rectorship of the Rev. Mr. Seymour the society built a brick chapel near the cemetery, on land sold nearly ninety years ago, by Captain John Hathaway, to the Hudson Aqueduct Association. In this chapel a week-day service and a Sunday-afternoon service are held regularly.
The Sunday-school attendance is about thirty-five teachers and three hundred scholars.