History

Many of our sister churches helped in our beginnings. Here is a window from Charleston Four Corners.

The Christian Church of St. Johnsville was organized in February of 1874 at the suggestion of Mr. Martin Williams, recently moved from Charleston Four Corners with his family. Mr. Williams' family (the maker of the Williams Grain Thresher) and six other families each committeed the sum of five hundred dollars for the organization of the Church and called to the new Pastorate a friend of the Williams', Rev. Charles A. Peake. The initial services were held in the Union Church on Main Street (now St. Paul's Lutheran Church) until their own church edifice could be constructed.
The following year, February 7, 1875, the congregation of the Christian Church of St. Johnsville was officially constituted with thirteen charter members. The church's Sunday School had been organized the previous year and attendance had reached approximately 125, with the father of the Knox Gelatin founder, C.M. Knox as Superintendent. Plans were drawn for a church building and the structure was erected on the corner of Center and Monroe Streets under the direction of John H. Kneeskern and sons, Lester and Alvin at a cost of $8000. The excavating was done without pay by farmers who came with their teams, and they drew lumber and bricks as well. The beams, rafters and brackets were all turned at Kneeskern Mill in the village. The colored glass was donated by individuals and other churches throughout the region. By enthusiastic, cooperative efforts of many folk the church was completed and ready for dedication on September 29, 1875. At this time, the name "Grace" was added to the congregation to distinguish it from other area Christian Churches. It is interesting to note that the names of the building committee, the cost of the church and the names of the thirteen charter members were all cast into the bell which hangs in the tower of the church.
Rev. Peak resigned in 1880 and the successive pastorates of the twenty-eight pastors Grace Church has called over the years ensued. Electric lights were added to the church building in 1901 during the pastorate of Rev G.E. Merrill. In 1911, Mrs. Henry McCrone (wife of the Pastor) organized the Philathea Class, a women's group which was to become an integral part of Grace Church even to this present day. The following year, the church was incorporated under the Laws of New York State on September 25 as Grace Christian Church. In 1931 The Christian Church underwent an important change. As a denomination the church united with the National Congregational Churches and subsequently became officially known as Grace Congregational Christian Church.
Rev. Albert Hotchkiss was the first pastor under this new union, serving from 1931 until 1943. Upon the recommendation of the church conference, the Ladies Aid and the Philathea Class were joined in 1953 to become the Society of Congregational Christian Women, which became a year later the Women's Fellowship.
In June of 1957, the Congregational Christian Church and the Evangelical and Reformed Church in American merged to become the new United Church of Christ. It wasn't until May of 1962, though, that the local congregation voted favorably on this denominational merger, thus becoming known as Grace Congregational United Church of Christ. The congregation of "Grace Church" know ourselves fashioned by the God who is love, and destined to share His Love in eternity. We look to His Son, Jesus Christ, as the perfect example of Love and sole head of the Church, and to His Holy Spirit for perfecting our love. We gather to share Love with our God and each other, and to inspire and support each other's growth in love. Our doors are open to all as we work with other churches in fulfillment of the great prayer of Jesus Christ "THAT THEY MAY ALL BE ONE."

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