Hallelujah – The Gospel According to Harlem

The diversity in our great City seems to know no bounds, and nowhere is this more evident then the way we spend our Sundays.  A stroll through Harlem on a Sunday morning captures the essense of life here.  So grab your hat – your very best hat – and your Harlem Map and follow me.

One of the best known for their gospel services is Abyssinian Baptist Church.  Founded in 1808, it is under the direction of Rev. Calvin Butts.  This church is a major landowner in Harlem and known for their community development and social services.

The building housing Mt. Neboh Baptist Church started out as a German-speaking Jewish synagogue in 1909 when the neighborhood had a large Jewish community.  Mt. Neboh was founded in 1937 and moved to this building in 1980,  after outgrowing their previous home.

The Greater Refuge Temple founded in 1919 is the headquarters for the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ of the Apostolic Faith with over 30,000 members in 450 churches throughout the United States.

I’ve lost count of the number of friends I have that are members of Canaan Baptist Church of Christ on West 116th Street.  Their current home was a Loews Theatre and after renovations, the cornerstone was laid in 1966.

The building that houses the First Corinthian Baptist Church started out as The Regent Theatre and was sold to the church in 1964.

I can’t mention gospel music without mentioning Vy Higginsen of the Mama Foundation and her Gospel Teens, which was recently highlighted on 60 Minutes.

Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd. on a Sunday morning is lined with tourist buses filled with people longing to be part of this wonderful tradition even if only for a few hours.   The music is electrifying and filled with soul, and can be heard coming from churches in the basements and converted brownstones as well as the better known churches, some of which I’ve highlighted today.

If you’d like to make a day of it on your own, you can find these churches and more on HarlemOneStop.  Be sure to check each church’s website for their individual ‘Service Etiquette’.   If you prefer to go with a group, check out the Welcome To Harlem Tours website, with many of their tours including a gospel brunch at some of Harlem’s noted restaurants. Or you can visit Untapped Cities post ‘Eating Your Way Through Harlem‘ for some great local ideas.

Follow  AFineLyne  on her website and on Facebook at  Harlem Sketches  or  Greenwich Village Sketches  and on  Twitter.  If you don’t yet have your Harlem poster map, pick one up at The Untapped Shop.