The Congregational

and Presbyterian

Churches of

New Lebanon,

Columbia County,

          New York         

by Captain Franklin Ellis438


     Soon after the settlement of the town religious meetings were held by those entertaining the Congregationalist belief.  A log meeting-house was erected west of Lebanon Springs in 1772, in which Rev. Samuel Johnson, a graduate of Yale College, preached to a society which was organized about that time, but which was so much weakened by the Shaker movement in 1780 that a suspension of services ensued.  About ten years later the Rev. Silas Churchill came to the town, and after a few years of missionary labor was ordained pastor of the revived church, July 16, 1795.  The society at that time was known as the "Church of Christ of New Lebanon," and was governed by the forms of the Congregational church.  

     The person constituting the membership at that period were Nehemiah Fitch, Ami Doubleday, Samuel Grigg, Asahel King, Andrew Hackley, John Hubbard, Lucy Pease, Anna Hubbard, Olive Hatch, Truelove Fitch, Louis Doubleday, John Hackley, Sarah Gilbert, Simon Hackley, Oliver Hitchcock, Sylvia Davis, Esther Hill, Silas Lincoln, Olive Tilden, Olive Bingham, Celia Chapin, Daniel Howe, John Johnson, Elisha Gilbert, Eleazer Grant, Nathan Hand, John Butler, Asa Hubbard, Moses Benedict, Royal Payne, Zalmon Skinner, Noah M. Wells, Benjamin Abbott, Cynthia Tilden.

     A few years later were added Joseph Cornwell, Elnathan Beach, Cooly Gray, Isaac Salls, Peter Plum, Joseph Davis, Rufus Abbott, Abram Seward, Seth Hill, Ezra Gates, and many others.

     A new meeting-house had previously been built near the present edifice, in the village of New Lebanon.  It was a very plain structure, standing in the middle of the square, with doors on three sides, and from its uncouth appearance was irreverently called "God's barn."  About fifty years ago the house was moved back to its present place, adorned with a steeple, and invested with a more churchly aspect.  The present house was erected in 1860, at a cost of more than $10,000, has three hundred and fifty sittings, and is one of the handsomest edifices in these parts.  The controlling board of trustees is at present composed of Jonathan Gillet, F. W. Hull, Henry L. Brown, George Tilden, and Joseph Cornwell.

     On the 12th of November, 1820, the church adopted the Presbyterian form of goverment (sic), with a proviso that if any member were so elected he might avail himself of the benefits attaching to the Congregational system.  Elisha Gilbert, Abram Seward, Joseph Bailey, Isaac Salls, Zalmon Skinner, Abel Judson, and Robert M. Bailey were chosen ruling elders, and Zalmon Skinner deacon.

     The church was received into the presbytery of Columbia county, and continued Presbyterian in form about twenty years.  A portion of the members then assumed the name and privileges of a separate Congregational society, yet continuing to worship in the same house and employing a pastor conjointly with the Presbyterians.  This arrangement still prevails.  The present ruling elders are Silas Churchill and C. W. Bacon.  The Congregational deacons are John Kendall, Fred. W. Hill, Pardee Carpenter, and Daniel Clark Warner.

     The pastoral office of the church was filled until 1845 by the Rev. Silas Churchill, who maintained that relation more than fifty years.  Subsequent pastors have been Revs. Charles J. Knowles, Robert Day, Thomas S. Bradley, John McVey, D. K. Millard, and George E. McLean, who terminated his connection January, 1877.  Since then the pulpit has been supplied by Dr. Belden, and at present by Rev. Thomas M. Gray.

     In 1827 the evangelist Finney labored with the church and produced a remarkable revival, which largely augmented the membership.   Other occasions of special interest followed, and in 1875 a revival ensured which gave the chruch fifty-nine new members.  The present membership of he combined churches is nearly two hundred.