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logo First Reformed Church of Bethlehem
Rt 9 and Clapper Road, Selkirk

First Reformed Church of Bethlehem

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.

 

 Bethlehem, NY - First Reformed Church of Bethlehem

Source of photo: Bennett, Allison. More Times Remembered. Newsgraphics of Delmar, Inc., 1987.

 

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