About Our ChurchWe invite you to “the church of the United Nations". Come worship with us, attend a concert or class, or simply enjoy the solace of this sacred space. Our mission is L.O.V.E. and we seek to extend God’s love Give
Our Mission & Vision
Our vision and mission is to help connect people to faith
We invite you to “the church of the United Nations. Come worship with us, attend a concert or class, or simply enjoy the solace of this sacred space. Our mission is L.O.V.E. and we seek to extend God’s love.
WHO ARE WE?
A church that helps every member find their ministry and lets them use their gifts and abilities to meet other’s needs.
WHAT WE BELIEVE
We believe the church is at her best when the doors are open to all who have an interest in learning about the Christian faith.
A place where a person with no church background can come and feel comfortable and enjoy the service because the atmosphere is welcoming and friendly.
The Church of the Covenant was founded in 1860 by the Rev. Dr. George L. Prentiss, who was aligned with the “New School” or liberal Presbyterians. Early services were held in the chapel of the Home for the Friendless on East 23rd Street, and the society was formally organized in 1862. The onset of the Civil War delayed plans to erect a permanent church, but following the war’s end an edifice was erected on the northwest corner of Fourth (Park) Avenue and 35th Street. Dedicated in 1865, the graceful stone building was designed in the Romanesque style by James Renwick, Jr., the noted architect of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, All Saints Catholic Church and Grace Church in New York City, and the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.
In 1870, the society established a mission school in a space above a stable on East 40th Street. Known as Covenant Chapel, the mission was headed by J. Cleveland Cady, the prominent New York architect perhaps best known for the original Metropolitan Opera House (1891) and the Museum of Natural History (1890). Cady designed a country chapel that was built on East 42nd Street, near Second Avenue, and opened in 1871.
In the years following the Civil War, growing business districts overtook residential areas and many residents moved northward into new apartment buildings. As the population shifted, membership in the congregation waned while Covenant Chapel soon became self-supporting and ultimately stronger than the Mother Church. In 1893, the remaining members of the original society consolidated with the nearby Brick Presbyterian Church, and the title of Church of the Covenant was transferred to the chapel. Proceeds from the sale of the original church on Fourth Avenue were turned over to the united congregation.
The “New” Church of the Covenant on 42nd Street continued to flourish. In 1927, a new Fellowship Hall was added to the church. As designed in a half-timbered Elizabethan style, the structure blended with the neighoring Tudor City, a residential complex built in the late 1920s. In 1950, 42nd Street was lowered by several feet to accomodate electric trolley traffic, necessitating the addition of a granite and limestone base below the entry level of the building, the repositioning of the entry doors and the addition of a new flight of bluestone steps leading up to these doors. In 1965, the Adams-Parkhurst Presbyterian Church, also designed by Cady, merged into the Church of the Covenant.
Julia Bulkley Cady, daughter of the architect, is known for the hymn, “We Praise Thee, O God, our Redeemer, Creator” (paired with the hymntune “Kremser”), which was written at the request of J. Archer Gibson, organist at the Brick Presbyterian Church, who thought that the commonly-sung text, “We Gather Together”, was too militaristic. The new text was first sung at Brick Church, where her family attended, on Thanksgiving Day 1902, and later appeared in Hymns of the Living Church in 1910. A month later, the author’s father wished to use this hymn on December 25 at the Church of the Covenant, so Miss Cady added a fourth stanza:
Thy love Thou didst show us, Thine only Son sending,
Who came as a babe and whose bed was a stall,
His blest life He gave us and then died to save us;
We praise Thee, O Lord, for Thy gift to us all.