History of the First Reformed Church of Astoria

It seems fitting to include a brief account of the history and witness of the First Reformed Church of Astoria on our website so that you will come to see how we came to be who we are.

Her life began with a group of Christians composed principally of those with membership in the Dutch Reformed and Presbyterian denominations who met at the Schoolhouse of Hallet’s Cove on October 12, 1835 to determine if it was feasible to form a church.

For a year this small group continued to gather for worship and to raise funds to construct a suitable House of Worship. On October 6, 1836 the corner stone of a white frame church building of colonial architecture was laid. Services of worship were conducted each Sunday afternoon on an alternating basis by the Rev. John Goldsmith, pastor of the Presbyterian Church of Newtown and the Rev. Garret J. Garretson, pastor of the Reformed Dutch Church of Newtown.

This group petitioned the Presbyterian and the Dutch Reformed denominations to assist them with their building indebtedness of $3,000.00. The Collegiate Dutch Reformed Church if New York responded with a gift of $1,500.00. Based on that financial assistance, The Classis of Long Island was petitioned to organize the Reformed Protestant Dutch Church of the Village of Astoria. The church was officially organized on July 14, 1839 at 2:00 P.M. at a service of worship. John S. Bussing was ordained and installed as the first deacon and Abraham Polhemus, elder.

The congregation was without a full time pastor until August 10, 1840 when Rev. Alexander Hamilton Bishop was called as the first pastor.

In 1858 the organ was installed and it is the one still in use today. On November 28, 1880 the “new Chapel” now called the Church Hall was dedicated and was widely acclaimed as the best accommodation for any Sunday School in Astoria.

On Saturday, January 14, 1888, a fire of unknown origin broke out in the church, damaging the floor, some of the pews and slightly damaging the organ. The congregation decided to demolish the damaged church building. The organ, pews, pulpit furniture, clock and bell were removed and stored in the Chapel. The corner stone of the present church sanctuary was laid on October 6, 1888, fifty-two years to the day after the laying of the corner stone of the first church building.

Centennial celebrations, with special services, a pagent and dinner were held in 1939.

The First Reformed Church of Astoria has remained a neighborhood church. God is good and has raised up many faithful and consecrated members. Today, like never before, God has blessed us with a vision, sprit and growing resources to glorify God and advance His Kingdom.

Let us say with St. Paul, “…I press on toward the goal until the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3:14) And let us resolve to “be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord our labor is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)

Click here to see the Roll of Ministers of The First Reformed Church of Astoria

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