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Gospel Mass in Harlem: Best Churches

If you are in Harlem, attending a gospel mass is a real spectacle that will open the doors to the local culture. Take note of the list of the best churches to enjoy a gospel mass in person.

María Cano

María Cano

7 min read

Gospel Mass in Harlem: Best Churches

Inside the Church | ©Debby Hudson

If you want to experience a different day in New York and soak up the cultural diversity there is no better plan than to go to Harlem and see a gospel mass. There are numerous Baptist churches where you can enjoy this spectacular and native experience. We make it easy for you to choose with a list of churches that allow tourists to enter.

If you want to know how to make the most of this experience, I recommend this guide on how to attend a Gospel Mass in Harlem, but here is a list of the best churches in case you want to visit them on your own.

1. Abbyssinian Baptist Church

Inside the church| ©Abbyssinian.org
Inside the church| ©Abbyssinian.org

Located at 132 W 138th Street, Abbyssinian Baptist Church is the most popular church. It holds a gospel mass on Sundays. This mass is not included in any sightseeing tour, but is open to tourists who wish to attend.

The estimated duration of the mass is two and a half hours and no one should leave until the end of the mass because it is frowned upon. To gain access to this mass, tourists should proceed, at 9:30 a.m., to the tourist entrance point located at the southeast corner of West 138th Street and Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Blvd. The mass will begin at 10:00 a.m. Access will be on a first-come, first-served basis based on seating availability. It is advisable to arrive early because there is usually a long line.

It is possible to request group seating if you come in groups of 10 or more, but please contact the church at least two weeks in advance at 212-862-7474 ext. 216 or [email protected].

To get there, the most convenient way is to take the 2 or 3 subway line to the Harlem-125th Street stop.

Useful information

Address: 132 W 138th Street.
Day and time of Mass: Sunday at 10:00 am.
Directions: Subway Line 2 or 3 to Harlem-125th Street.

Bethel Gospel Assembly

Detail of the choir| ©Haley Rivera
Detail of the choir| ©Haley Rivera

Bethel Gospel Assembly is located at 130W 116th Street and is, along with Abbyssinian Baptist Church, another of the best known options to enjoy a spectacular gospel mass.

This church has a special feature: Sunday mass is celebrated in both English and French. At 9:00 a.m. the mass is in French and at 10:15 a.m. the mass is in English. In addition, a mass is also celebrated on Wednesdays at 7:00 pm.

During the ceremony, you can also take photos and videos and there are few churches that allow it.

To get to the temple, the most convenient way is to take the subway line 2 or 3 to the Harlem-125th Street stop.

Useful information

Address: 130W 116th Street.
Day and time of Mass: Sunday, 9:00 am and 10:15 am, and Wednesday, 7:00 pm.
Directions: Subway Line 2 or 3 to Harlem-125th Street.

3. Convent Avenue Baptist Church

Convent Avenue Baptist Church| ©TripAdvisor
Convent Avenue Baptist Church| ©TripAdvisor

Convent Avenue Baptist Church is also another option to consider when deciding to see a gospel mass in Harlem. And you may wonder why. Here's the answer.

It is a church that is off the beaten tourist track and is located in the heart of the Harlem neighborhood. Tourists are placed in the upper box and have a spectacular view of the mass.

To get there you can take the subway line 2 and 3 and get off at the Harlem 125th Street stop.

Useful information

Address: 420 W 145th Street.
Day and time of mass: Sunday
Directions: Subway Line 2 or 3 to Harlem-125th Street.

4. First Corinthian Baptist Church

Image of the First Corinthian Baptist Church from the 1912 archive.| ©Village Preservation
Image of the First Corinthian Baptist Church from the 1912 archive.| ©Village Preservation

First Corinthian Baptist Church is located at 1912 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd. and is another favorite choice for tourists.

This church mixes regular parishioners with tourists, so you can experience it in a more indigenous and fully integrated way. The gospel mass is held on Sunday mornings at 7:30 am, 9:30 am and 11:30 am.

You can easily get there on the 2 and 3 subway lines. The stop is 116th Street.

Useful information

Address: 1912 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd.
Day and time of Mass: Sunday, 7:30 am, 9:30 am and 11:30 am.
Directions: Subway Line 2 or 3 to Harlem-116th Street.

5. Greater Refuge Temple

The modern Greater Refuge Temple| ©Village Preservation
The modern Greater Refuge Temple| ©Village Preservation

Located at 2081 Adam Clayton Power Jr. Blvd (7th Avenue) between W 124th St and W 125th St, Greater Refuge Temple is also a good option to enjoy a gospel mass.

Mass is held on Sundays at 11:00 a.m. and lasts longer. It is estimated to be around three hours. It is a real spectacle that you can also enjoy in streaming because it has a section on its web portal for live streaming. What are you waiting for?

Getting to the temple is very easy. Just take the subway line 2 or 3 and get off at the Harlem 125th Street stop.

Useful Information

Address: 2081 Adam Clayton Power Jr. Blvd (7th Avenue).
Day and time of Mass: Sunday, 11:00 am.
Directions: Subway Line 2 or 3 to Harlem-116th Street.

6. White Rock Baptist Church

Choir details| ©Michael Maasen
Choir details| ©Michael Maasen

White Rock Baptist Church is a less touristy church, which is very positive because the gospel masses are usually quite crowded. But, on the downside, it is not as spectacular a mass as those previously mentioned, because they sing for less time.

The mass takes place on Sunday mornings at 9:30 am.

To get there the easiest way is to take the subway line 2 or 3 and get off at the 125th Street stop.

Useful information about the church

Address: 152 W 127th Street.
Day and time of Mass: Sunday, 9:30 am.
Directions: Subway Line 2 or 3 to Harlem-125th Street.

7. Memorial Baptist Church

Inside the church| ©Karl Fredrickson
Inside the church| ©Karl Fredrickson

Memorial Baptist Church is located at 141 W 115th Street and offers Masses open to the public on Sundays at 11:00 am.

Like so many other churches it does not allow the use of cameras and to get there you must take the subway line 2 or 3 and get off at the 116th Street stop.

Useful information

Address: 141 W 115th Street.
Day and time of Mass: Sunday, 11:00 am.
Directions: Subway Line 2 or 3 to Harlem-116th Street.

8. Antioch Baptist Church

Gospel Choir| ©Junior Gabriel
Gospel Choir| ©Junior Gabriel

Antioch Church is located at 515W 125th Street and gospel mass is held on Sundays at 10:30 am.

Useful information

Address: 515 W 125th Street.
Day and time of Mass: Sunday, 10:30 am.
Directions: Subway Line 2 or 3 to Harlem-116th Street.

9. Canaan Baptist Church

Gospel Choir| ©Thomas Vogel
Gospel Choir| ©Thomas Vogel

Canaan Baptist Church is located at 130W 116th Street and also accepts tourists during its gospel masses.

Mass is held on Sunday at 10:00 a.m., but you must be at the door at least 9:30 a.m. beforehand. To arrive on time, take the subway line 2 or 3 and get off at the 116th Street stop.

Useful information

Address: 132 W 116th Street.
Day and time of Mass: Sunday, 10:00 am.
Directions: Subway Line 2 or 3 to Harlem-116th Street.

Book the Harlem Gospel Mass Tour


Where to see a gospel tour outside of Harlem

Strolling around Brooklyn| ©Josh Wilburne
Strolling around Brooklyn| ©Josh Wilburne

And if you want to enjoy a gospel mass outside of Harlem you can go to The Brooklyn Tabernacle, in Brooklyn. Specifically at 17 Smith Street.

The mass takes place on Sundays at 9:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. and lasts about an hour and a half.

The Brooklyn Tabernacle is not as touristy a church as those in Harlem. In fact, in appearance it is more like a theater and the choir has about 150 people who sing for about 45 minutes. Spectacular stuff!

Another option to enjoy a gospel mass outside of Harlem is Times Square Church, which is located in an old theater and is also really spectacular.

Traveler's Tip

Our recommendation is that to visit a gospel mass you should do it through a tour or go 30-40 minutes in advance so you don't miss out.

Things to know when going to a Gospel Mass

Gospel Choir| ©iStock
Gospel Choir| ©iStock

Although each of the churches mentioned above has a series of specific recommendations, in general there are a series of points that you should take into account in order to have all the details of how to go to a Gospel Mass in Harlem. Here is a brief summary:

  • You must enter before the mass begins.
  • It is advisable to stay in the church until the end of the service.
  • It is not appropriate for tourists to wear tank tops, flip-flops, shorts or leggings.
  • Women and men should enter with their shoulders covered.
  • Backpacks are not allowed.
  • Unless otherwise noted, no photography or filming is allowed.
  • A donation is usually requested from all attendees.

How to get to Harlem

To visit a gospel mass, the most comfortable way is to go by subway. The line that passes through Harlem is line 2 and the closest stops to the churches mentioned are Harlem-125th Street and Harlem 116th Street.

And if when this experience is over, you want to continue enjoying new experiences, visit the post about The 10 best tours of New York in Spanish.