“In consideration for the sum of one dollar in money and in exchange for the promotion of the Gospel in that third ward of Schenectady, they, assign forever that certain parcel of land situated two miles and three fourths south westerly from compact part of Schenectady and on the southeast side of the road that leads past the Old Grist Mill of Johannas Vedder toward Princetown.”
From agreement made on Nov. 27, 1820 between the “Mayor, Alderman and commonalty of the City of Schenectady” with Cobblestone Church (at that time Second Reformed Protestant Church of the Third Ward)
It is difficult to pinpoint exactly when the church began to actually form, most believe that it was around 1813. A document of incorporation of the church is signed by the Rev. Jeremiah Searle; elders: Lawrence Schermerhorn, Peter Becker, and Oliver Springer; deacons: John Vischer, Phillip DeForest and John Putman; and was dated Jan. 12, 1824.
The names signed on the document are seen all over Rotterdam, especially on street signs. Cobblestone has always been a church that has been immersed in the Rotterdam/Schenectady area. As the area has changed, so has the church.
The church has had two main buildings in its two hundred year history. The first was a modest wooden structure built in 1822. It was remodeled and renovated several times. Our current sanctuary was built in 1895 and dedicated in a three day long ceremony, September 22-25 of that year. The architect was Bradford Gilbert, who worked for the New Central Railroad Station. He obtained the clock from New York Central and donated $800 to build the clock tower in memory of Maria McCauley, who gave up much of her life to work in a mission in New York City. That mission, incidentally, brought John Calvin Knox [minister during time of dedication] to Christ and to the Ministry. The dedication program started with President Raymond of Union College preaching the dedication sermon and Reformed Church Ministers from all over our area taking part.
The former Cobblestone Chapel was built in 1902, enlarged twice, but was burned down in an accidental fire around Christmas time in 1963. Our present education wing, Fellowship Hall, and Hearthroom were added and dedicated 1965.
The area has changed significantly in two hundred years. It transitioned from a rural community to a suburban one and the church had to change along with it. The church has had twenty ministers during this time. The area continues to evolve and change and the church is adapting to the surroundings. The findings of a survey taken in 2013 show that the Tri-city area of Schenectady-Troy-Albany is the most “Post-Christian” area in the country. To see how the church is meeting this change in culture see “Our Present.”
For the past few decades, Cobblestone, like most churches throughout the country, has experienced decline, and this has happened for a variety of reasons. In response to this, the last few years have been a time for Cobblestone to re-discover what it means for us to be a church in this place at this time.
In this rediscovery process Cobblestone has discerned that one of our greater desires is to be known as a church that cares for the greater community. To this end, we have hired a new minister who is passionate about relating the Christian Story with the needs of the modern generation, particularly those disenfranchised from the church.
Some of the findings of the survey that is mentioned in “Our Past” show thatmany of the Post-Christian people are confused by Christianity and are put-off by the hypocrisy, judgmentalism, and hatred that they have seen and/or experienced in the Church.
In response to this Cobblestone wants to be apologetic about these errors of the Church, admitting that we have and probably will make similar mistakes. While at the same time, we also want to be very clear about what the purpose of our church is, so that we could avoid some of the confusion, which will also help us avoid some of the other pitfalls of the past. John, together with the other leaders of Cobblestone, have spent the past several months redefining what kind of church we wish to be. We have concluded that we want to be a “Christian community working together to serve all people.”
“Working together to serve all people” is our core purpose.
We serve all people through the work that we do in this church and the organizations that we partner with outside of these walls.
As Jesus says “Blessed are the poor, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” so we seek to help first those in poverty. We strive to help those in material, spiritual, relational, and vocational poverty.
We help those in material poverty mainly through our partnership with organizations that are better equipped to help those in need of food, housing, and job training to get out of material poverty. We try to help those in spiritual, relational, and vocational poverty directly with the ministries that we offer.
In all of our events and groups we expect and welcome people who are at different places on their spiritual journey. If you are just checking out Christianity for the first time, are re-checking it after a hiatus, or have been going to church your whole life, know that you are welcome here.
We are not primarily interested in getting more people to attend on Sunday mornings, we are interested in getting people to join us in our mission. We hope that through our service of people in this community there would be social, economic, and spiritual renewal and revitalization in the Rotterdam/Schenectady area.
Right now we have begun to make necessary adjustments in our ministry in light of our mission. Most of these can be found in the “Connect and Serve” tab at the top of the page. Additionally to these changes, we are making some aesthetic updates to the church, like the nursery to bring parts of our building to the 21st century.