This post describes how you could hear gospel music in New York, whether in Harlem, in Brooklyn or anywhere else.
Helpful tips on experiencing Gospel music without an organized tour.
Find out service schedules ahead of time.
Churches have services at different times, and not all services include a choir. Look at a church’s website or call ahead to decide when to visit.
Know your etiquette.
Many church websites have visitor pages. Read this information to spare yourself being scolded. Showing up in jeans and flip-flops is inappropriate.
Be sure to turn off your cell phone ringer, and unless you are permitted to do so, do not take photos or videos.
These are religious services, not musical performances.
The forces driving the sermons and the congregations listening to them are the same forces that drive the human spirit.
Give yourself enough time.
Be prepared to experience the whole service, which could take 2 hours or more.
Services with a choir singing will also include a sermon, and not only are the sermons quite moving but it can also be considered rude to leave in the middle.
So, give yourself enough time to enjoy the whole service.
Consider making at least a small donation to the church.
Congregations are happy to have visitors and share their celebrations, but no church and choir can get by without the support of its members and guests.
Religious organizations are non-profits that provide many valuable services to their communities. Even a dollar or two is appreciated.
Avoid the tourist crowds.
Consider visiting a smaller congregation - the experience will be just as special and that less crowded.
Lady Altovise's Harlem Renaissance and Gospel Experience.
Every Wednesday, Lady Altovise, a tour guide with Free Tours by Foot, presents her gospel performance.
There's no dress code and this is not a church service. Learn more here.
Times Square Church - 1657 Broadway.
The Times Square Church is located in a renovated Broadway Theater in the heart of Midtown Manhattan and is an interdenominational church with members from over 100 nationalities.
Their Adult Praise Choir (video above) performs 4 times per week.
They minister weekly during the Sunday 10 am and 3 pm services and Tuesday 7 pm prayer service.
Check their schedule to confirm the times and get further details.
The Brooklyn Tabernacle’s choir is 40 years old but better than ever.
In 2013 they were invited to sing to the Nation at the Presidential Inauguration in Washington, D.C.
The Tabernacle is located in easily-reachable Downtown Brooklyn at 17 Smith Street between Livingston and Fulton Streets - (718) 290-2000.
Sunday services are at 9 am, 11 am, and 1 pm.
Extra Bonus: The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir is located in Brooklyn Heights.
If you prefer to visit a congregation in Harlem, try to steer clear of the larger congregations, some of which are so popular with tourists, visitors are sometimes turned away for lack of space in the pews.
Still, they are popular for a reason—the sermons and choir, and services are magnificent.
Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem
Some of the larger churches are located in Harlem and they are:
- Abyssinian Baptist Church - 420 W 145th Street in Harlem between Convent and St. Nicholas Avenues (212) 234-6767. Sunday worship service is at 10:00 am. The congregation welcomes those who would like to worship with them. They discourage visitors who are only looking for a gospel performance.
- Greater Refuge Temple - 2081 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd. at 124th Street in Harlem (212) 866-1700. Sunday services are at 11:00 am and 4:00 pm.
- Mount Neboh Baptist Church - 1883 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd. between West 114th West 115 Streets in Harlem. Streets. (212) 866-7880. Sunday service is at 9:30 am (during the summer).
- Canaan Baptist Church - 132 W. 116th Street between Lenox & 7th Avenues in Harlem. (212) 866-0301. Sunday services are at 8 am and 11 am. Sunday service at 10:00 am (during the summer).
- First Corinthian Baptist Church - 1912 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd. between West 115th and West 116th Streets (212) 864-5976. Sunday services are at 8:00 am and 10:45 am.
- Bethel Gospel Assembly - 2-26 East 120th Street, between 5th and Madison Avenues, (212) 860-1510. Sunday Services at 10:15 am. *Please be advised to double-check times yourself.
There are plenty of organized tours that will take you on a Sunday gospel tour.
Below we list some of the best. Before purchasing a tour, note that gospel tours are often included in tourist discount passes.
To learn more about these money-saving passes, read our post on New York Passes to see if a pass may be right for you.
This highly regarded our operator offers several gospel-themed bus tours, including jazz and brunch tours.
All gospel-themed tours operate on Wednesdays and Sundays. They offer a Sunday Gospel and Soul Food bus tour.
Video is of Gospel and Soul Food Tour
This tour lasts 4 hours, includes a 1-hour gospel church service, and ends at a famous soul food restaurant (food not included).
They do offer a tour that includes lunch and lasts for an additional hour.
- Departs at 9 am from 690 Eighth Avenue bet. 43rd and 44th Sts. Return to Times Square area.
- Returns Available in English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, and Portuguese.
- $65/Adult and $49/Child (age 3-11).
- You can get $5 off if you have the New York Pass.
Inside Out Tours
Harlem isn't the only place in NYC to experience gospel music. Every Sunday Inside Out Tours offers a combination walking and subway tour. It's free with the New York Pass.
Sunday Morning Brooklyn Gospel Walking Tour
- Departs at 9 am from 79 Broadway at the intersection of Wall Street and Broadway in front of Trinity Church
- 2-hour walking tour and 2-hour gospel church service
- You will need a MetroCard for two rides.
Harlem One Stop
This arts and cultural initiative also offers gospel-themed walking tours of Harlem. They offer a 10:30 am walking tour on Sundays.
The cost is $25 per person. Note that this tour is free for holders of a New York Pass.
To learn more about these money-saving passes, read our post on New York Tourist Passes to see if purchasing a pass may be right for you.
OPTIONS WITH FREE TOURS BY FOOT
We offer an exceptional gospel tour experiences led by Lady Altovise.
Unlike the church services listed below, there is no dress code for this tour and performance, and there is no waiting in line.
Cost: $25/person. Book this tour.
Note: This tour operates on Wednesdays at noon and pares with our 2-hour walking tour of Harlem.
To learn more about Harlem and visit many of its main attractions, join us for our free Harlem Walking Tour. Be sure to reserve a spot now!
We can show you where some of the churches we list below are located on our free New York tours.