Accurate data regarding religious affiliation can be challenging; nonetheless, scholars believe New York City is more spiritually diverse and accepting of different faith communities than many other cities worldwide.
Brooklyn Tabernacle boasts an acclaimed choir during their services, held every Sunday and streamed live online. Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem also offers excellent gospel music in NYC, featuring singing, dancing, and audience participation!
Times Square Church
Times Square is home to an interdenominational church known for its gospel choir. Established by David Wilkerson – author of The Cross and the Switchblade – to meet the spiritual needs of neighborhood residents at that time, when crime-ridden areas such as Times Square were plagued with prostitutes and adult theaters; Wilkerson felt inspired to open this church to help people find hope and healing.
He began by helping those most in need in his community – such as addicts and alcoholics with terminal AIDS conditions and troubled teens – including addicts and alcoholics and dying patients of other kinds. Later, he reached out to gang members and other troubled youth. Now, his church brings people from over 100 nations together for worship each week.
Initially meeting in Town Hall, the church eventually purchased and moved to the former Mark Hellinger Theatre building – now known as Times Square Church – as part of its move out from Town Hall in 1991. Now known as Times Square Church, its presence stands as a landmark within one of New York City’s toughest neighborhoods and offers religious services, charity work, and outreach initiatives.
Church services at Holy Apostles Baptist are notable for their strong emphasis on prayer, with benefits lasting approximately two and a half hours. Furthermore, a bi-weekly online ministry called For Pastors Only provides ministers worldwide with spiritual mentoring services. Carter Conlon served as associate pastor from 1994-2001 before becoming senior pastor in 2002.
Church of St. Mary the Virgin
Church of Saint Mary the Virgin has stood the test of time and weather for over 800 years in Manhattan’s heart, serving as a place of peace and spirituality that welcomes people of all backgrounds to celebrate Christ’s love together. Additionally, special events hosted here by McNeil Robinson’s organ can also be found here.
After much persuasion and hard work, the five founding sisters of the Community of St. Mary finally convinced Bishop Horatio Potter that their new religious community would be monastic rather than charitable. With his agreement, they could build their church at 45th Street, rectory, clergy house, and mission house on an eight-lot parcel; trustees hired an architect specializing in French Gothic style from 13th to 14th century Europe for this design work.
The Church is well known for its solemn liturgies and choral music, with a choir performing chants and masses from medieval composers through to contemporary ones. Due to this extensive repertoire, often referred to as “Smokey Mary’s,” its name often derives from using incense during services.
Church of the Transfiguration
The Church of the Transfiguration also referred to as “The Little Church Around the Corner,” is a historic Episcopal church on Manhattan’s Upper East Side that is widely recognized among theatrical circles for being home to Maggie Smith and Brendan Gill as well as hosting Episcopal Actors’ Guild archives and being featured prominently in Woody Allen film Hannah and Her Sisters.
This church stands out for its Georgian architecture, featuring small-paned double-hung windows with Gothic tracery. Built of Manhattan schist, which the AIA Guide to New York City describes as making neat building blocks with brownstone details, an octagonal copper tower designed by Henry Engelbert was added in 1868.
This church is well-known for its history of helping those on the margins. Before the American Civil War, it served as a stop on the Underground Railroad to protect escaped slaves; later, it hosted one of New York’s first Sunday schools for African Americans.
After the Civil War, the church continued aiding the less fortunate through Reverend Edward Southwell and its pastor’s devotion. Furthermore, it hosted its inaugural same-sex wedding within its diocese and is today a vibrant community, preserving its historical architecture while welcoming people of various religions and backgrounds.
Norwegian Seamen’s Church
Sjomannskirken was founded in 1864 to serve Scandinavian seafarers who traveled internationally. It provided moral and spiritual education and a place to speak their own language with fellow countrymen in foreign ports they visited. Today, many Norwegians who travel internationally visit these churches or visit with traveling pastors–though few actual sailors stop by!
The Brooklyn church serves as a spiritual outpost for the Dane community across New York and beyond, drawing members from throughout the Tri-State area and New York, semi-permanently or as students. Weekly church services in Danish are held there, along with mother’s groups, playgroups, youth networks, talks, and hikes – even during COVID-19 lockdown periods! Furthermore, its presence gives its members a sense of community and hygge.
Denmark in New York Culture and Public Diplomacy Intern Mona Raben Eisby recently met up with Pastor Julie Slok at their church to learn more about how they have managed to stay open throughout the pandemic. This interview marks the inaugural Culture Conversation focusing on innovative initiatives to assist hard-hit communities through the COVID-19 outbreak.
Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims
The Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims in Brooklyn Heights is a historic Congregational church founded in 1847 under Henry Ward Beecher, renowned antislavery preacher and activist. Soon after, this congregational church became a hub of antislavery activism known as the “Grand Central Depot” of the Underground Railroad.
Joseph C. Wells designed and completed this church in 1849-50; its design has since been designated a National Historic Landmark as part of Brooklyn Heights Historic District. Now home to Plymouth Congregational Church of New York City and serving the community through thoughtful conversations and meaningful actions taken throughout, it serves as an iconic building.
Lawrence Wendell Fifield became the fifth pastor of Plymouth Church in 1941 after serving as pastor at Plymouth Congregational Church in Seattle, Washington, and teaching Biblical literature and public speaking at Yankton College in South Dakota.
Plymouth Church collection comprises annual reports, shareholder books (1859), pew rental records charts, and items related to pastors such as Beecher. Furthermore, there are articles written about him during his antislavery activities; each successive pastor made every effort to uphold Beecher’s legacy at Plymouth Church by honoring its reputation, and these papers demonstrate this fact.
Greater Refuge Temple
Greater Refuge Temple Church near Times Square is known for its gospel choir. Open to visitors of all faiths, Greater Refuge Temple welcomes anyone interested in joining its lively services each Sunday or online. Benefits occur every Sunday; please register here if you are interested in attending!
Late Bishop R.C. Lawson established this church and belongs to the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ of Apostolic Faith Inc. Congregations is in Harlem and offers an ideal venue for gospel music in NYC, especially its lively performances featuring audience participation and unusual percussive instruments like drums.
Greater Cavalry Baptist Church in New York City is renowned for hosting some of the city’s best gospel choirs, hosting acts like U2, and offering popular gospel music services on Sunday mornings at 10 AM (both online and physically). Services may be attended in person or watched online.
Abyssinian Baptist Church offers gospel music fans in New York an unforgettable service experience in Harlem! Boasting an outstanding gospel choir housed within an exquisite building, they also host regular concerts and community events – visit this church for an unforgettable service experience! Additionally, Canaan Baptist Church boasts a lively yet welcoming environment to provide services in Harlem.