The oldest church organization in town
sits high on a crest off 9W and Clapper Road. It was established in
1791 as the Reformed Protestant Dutch Church at Bethlehem and Jericho
by Barent Staats, Johannis Burhans, Benjamin Post, Francis Nicoll,
Pieter D. Winne and Wouter Becker. The little red church's first pastor
was Rev. Bork who entered this country impressed into service in the
Hessian army to aid the British. He was attached to Burgoyne's army.
Rev. Bork preached at Schodack and Bethlehem in both English and Dutch.
He resided at Schodack for two years, then moved to the Parsonage
Farm when it was built in 1800 on land given by Stephan van Rensselaer
in 1795. Now the parsonage is the Van Rensselaer Forest and Wildlife
Preserve, planted with 45, 500 trees in 1947. The preserve has been
developed as a nature area with picnic grove, pond and nature trail
open to the public.
A simple colonial design church replaced
the original one in 1821 but burned. In 1890 the present church was
erected. A journal article is now in preparation, which interprets
archaeological evidence found around the farmhouse in the 1980's.