Gospel Mass in Harlem: 9 best churches

If you are in Harlem, attending a gospel mass is a true 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: 9 best churches

Inside the Church | ©Debby Hudson

If you want to live 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

Abbyssinian Baptist Church is the most popular church. It holds a gospel mass on Sundays which is not included in any 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 go, 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. 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 queue.

Group seating is available for 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].

Useful Information

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

Book a Gospel Tour of Harlem

2. Bethel Gospel Assembly

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

Bethel Gospel Assembly 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.

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

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.

Book the Harlem Gospel Mass Tour

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.

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.

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

Archive image of First Corinthian Baptist Church from 1912.| ©Village Preservation
Archive image of First Corinthian Baptist Church from 1912.| ©Village Preservation

First Corinthian Baptist Church 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.

Useful information

  • Address: 1912 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd.
  • Day and time of Mass: Sunday, 7:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.
  • 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

Greater Refuge Temple is also a good option to enjoy a gospel mass.

The mass has a longer duration, estimated to be around three hours. It is a real spectacle that you can also enjoy streaming because it has a section on its web portal for live streaming. What are you waiting for?

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.

Useful information

  • Address: 152 W 127th Street.
  • Day and time of mass: Sunday, at 9:30 am.
  • How to get there: Subway line 2 or 3 to Harlem-125th Street.

Book the Harlem tour with Gospel Mass

7. Memorial Baptist Church

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

Memorial Baptist Church, like so many other churches, does not allow the use of cameras, but even you can see that as a positive thing to enjoy with all your senses the religious spectacle.

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

At AntiochChurch they do make a distinction between locals and tourists, however, you can live what is truly a gospel experience in a vibrant atmosphere.

Useful Information

  • Address: 515 W 125th Street.
  • Day and time of service: 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 also accepts tourists during their gospel masses. In this case, you'll sit in the boxes while the congregation is downstairs, but you'll be able to catch all their enthusiasm.

Useful information

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

Book the Harlem Gospel Mass Tour


What are the best Gospel tours in Harlem?

There are two ways to attend a Gospel Mass in Harlem: by yourself or with a tour. Personally, I like the second option better because, before attending the mass, you can enjoy a tour of the Harlem neighborhood with a guide who will tell you interesting facts about the history of the area. I think that this way, by soaking in the context and knowing the place you are in, you can enjoy the experience inside the church and all that surrounds it much more.

Regardless of the option you choose, you should know that most Gospel Masses take place on Sundays (with some exceptions on Wednesdays). So keep this in mind when going on your own and organizing your trip. If you opt for the guided tour option, these are the options I recommend:

  • Harlem tour with gospel mass on Sunday: the advantage of going on this day is that you will find a livelier atmosphere than on Wednesday.
  • Harlem tour with gospel mass on Wednesday (currently not available on Hellotickets): in this case, the atmosphere may be quieter, but private transportation from New York to Harlem is included.

Book the Harlem Tour with Gospel Mass

Where to take a gospel tour outside 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 service 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. Something spectacular!

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

Traveler's Tip

Our recommendation is that to visit a gospel mass you do it through a tour or go with an advance of 30-40 minutes so you do not 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 above 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. You can even stay in Harlem and continue enjoying all its history and African American culture.

Book a tour of Harlem