NYC - Gospel church service in Harlem

Nov 9th, 2003, 01:53 PM
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NYC - Gospel church service in Harlem

Would like to visit a gospel service in Harlem on Sunday morning (visiting NYC Dec. 13 - 19, 2003)with my three friends. Would like to know if this is offensive to the local people (i.e. just showing up there). Would it be more appropriate to take the Harlem Tour that includes a Sunday morning service?
mary190244 is offline  
Nov 9th, 2003, 02:47 PM
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We have a friend in England who came here one year and wanted to do the same thing. Apparently she was told that it was a must see. Personally, I think it is a touch offensive to treat a neighborhood church service as part of sightseeing.
IMO - the Harlem Tour might be a better idea.
Scarlett is offline  
Nov 9th, 2003, 04:14 PM
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Thanks for your quick reply Scarlett.
mary190244 is offline  
Nov 9th, 2003, 04:16 PM
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You are welcome ~
Will you be going to services in any other churches? St Patricks is worth the visit..and St John the Divine has evening concerts, I cannot remember the dates but they have a blessing of the animals that is always so touching and funny, Pup will be there ((&))
Scarlett is offline  
Nov 9th, 2003, 04:51 PM
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Mary, you don't necessarily have to go to Harlem to find a great gospel service. Times Square Church at 51st and Broadway has a rip-snorter. The church is in a restored movie theater and hosts up to 7000 on a Sunday morning. Here is the website if you are interested:
The pastor, David Wilkerson, has a deep love for the people of New York. In fact, they were among the first to rush to aid at the scene of the WTC disaster.
Maggi is offline  
Nov 9th, 2003, 05:42 PM
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Mary, Although I don't have a direct answer for you, I may be able to steer you in the right direction. Recently, when in NY, we went on a Harlem Jazz walking tour and the tour guide did point out a church that was very well known and very much visited by tourists on Sunday mornings. He may be able to help , if you email him.
His name is Paul Blair and the web site is
We did his Sugar Hill Stroll tour and it was excellent. I would have loved to have gone on some of his other tours. Very, very well done.
Hopefully he can give you the name of this church. You can mention that it was seen on the Sugar Hill Stroll.
Good luck.
kodi is offline  
Nov 10th, 2003, 05:41 AM
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I'm not very religious. Ok, so I'm not at all religious, but I think it's pretty tacky to go to a church to sightsee, probably even more so as a bus tour than even going on your own.
Go to BB King's on 42nd Street for a gospel brunch. It's a lot of fun and it's designed for tourists and as entertainment. you won't be offending anybody there.
earl30 is offline  
Nov 10th, 2003, 02:41 PM
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Wow! I love this site. Lots of great advice. Thanks everyone. I will contribute any details of our trip that can't be found in tourist guides.
mary190244 is offline  
Nov 10th, 2003, 03:32 PM
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There are a number of places that do gospel brunches. Sylvia's is in Harlem, Soul Cafe is on west 42nd st and Lola's is on 22nd betw 5th & 6th.
mclaurie is offline  
Nov 10th, 2003, 03:36 PM
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Just my opinion: I have passed by this several times and not posted but I just can't help it...I don't agree that visiting churches is necessarily tacky. I am not religious (spiritual perhaps)but I have been to churches all over the world and they are some of the, if not THE most beautiful buildings ever built. I personally think if people are truly living the rules of their religion, wouldn't they "welcome you" and want to share their service with you ? They even come door to door to try and get people to come by and check it out with some religions. I can understand if it may be a sensitive issue and that you do not want people to treat it like a circus act, but again I would think they would be welcoming. Just my opinion...just like religion everybody thinks differently about the same issue.
Wednesday is offline  
Nov 10th, 2003, 04:06 PM
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Wednesday, I think you have articulated a very insightful reply. As long as a person is dressed appropriately and acts respectfully, what is offensive about visiting a "neighborhood church" be it a cathedral or a village parish?

I'm certain most of those who've posted here and who also post on the Europe board have logged plenty of time in churches...enjoying the architecture, music, services or spiritual solitude.

There are a number of Harlem tours which include church services. Presumably the congregations wouldn't allow tours to participate if they were offended.
obxgirl is offline  
Nov 10th, 2003, 04:23 PM
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What a weird question! Obviously, you aren't a church-goer. If you were at all, you would know that people won't be offended in a real gospel church. Any church I've been a member of loves visitors. We don't care why you come, we're just happy to have you there.
I have visited churches in England, France, Spain, and all over the US--have felt welcomed everywhere--in a Anglican church in York, we couldn't leave for almost 30 minutes after the service for everyone welcoming us and thanking us for coming.
RachelG is offline  
Nov 10th, 2003, 04:31 PM
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I picture it a little differently from a Cathedral in France to a small gospel church in Harlem.
You have a small congregation of people singing and worshipping then you have a small group of people who are not from the neighborhood nor do they belong to the church.
Sure, church people welcome new people into the church, but how would it feel if a group of tourists came in and sat down to watch you and the way you worship? They are not going to admire the architecture of a plain building. They are going to watch the people in the church.
When we go to Notre Dame, we don't watch the worshipers, we sit and look at the church..and rarely do we go when there are services going on.
I have been in St Patricks in NYC when groups of visitors come in during a service, they are not always quiet or respectful.
So that is why I would recommend someone who wants to see a Gospel church service to go with a Tour that does just that.
Scarlett is offline  
Nov 10th, 2003, 04:44 PM
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This is really interesting and I'm not sure how I feel about it all. At first, I sense too that a group of tourists entering a gospel church in Harlem are really looking for "entertainment", not a religious experience, but I could be wrong.

On the other hand, all over the UK, people go to a cathedral or church to hear the boys' choir sing evensong -- isn't than also more for entertainment than a religious experience? Are these two things different?
Patrick is offline  
Nov 10th, 2003, 04:53 PM
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I don't see anything wrong with it at all, in any respect. The heart of any real church is the human element and not the brick and mortar, is it not?
levon is offline  
Nov 10th, 2003, 06:13 PM
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I go to the Times Square Church mentioned above. We get a lot of tourists in the service just to hear the choir and see the beautiful interior where among others Julie Andrews performed in My Fair Lady. I don't think it bothers anyone except there are a few that get up and leave early. But I guess that's in every church.
Gothampc is offline  
Nov 10th, 2003, 06:18 PM
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This may add fuel to everyone's fire on this thread...

My understanding of how the organized gospel tours work: Since the gospel services are 2 to 3 hours, after most of the music is done, but before the sermon begins, the tour groups leaves.

Some might prefer that the visitors stay for the entire service, not just the "entertainment." If you went to such a service on your own, you could choose to stay.
ellenem is offline  
Nov 10th, 2003, 07:45 PM
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Will contact some churches directly to find out their preference. I am a believer and regular church attender and would like to experience a different style of worship than the WASP church I attend in the Canadian prairies.
mary190244 is offline  
Nov 11th, 2003, 04:35 AM
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Good luck Mary. I think it's great that you want to experience worshipping at a different church. I once met a minister (also from here in Canada) who loved to go to differnt churches in the Caribbean and where ever he travelled. In know way was he 'sightseeing' or going for entertainment. As, you, he wanted to share in the local worshipping. I'm sure you'll find a church and I hope the experience is a memorable one.
kodi is offline  

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