Gospel Mass in Harlem: 9 best churches

If you're in Harlem, attending a gospel service 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: 9 best churches

Inside the Church | ©Debby Hudson

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

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 service is two and a half hours and no one should leave until the service is over because it is frowned upon. To gain access to this mass, tourists should proceed to the tourist entrance point at 9:30 a.m., located at the southeast corner of West 138th Street and Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Blvd. Access is on a first-come, first-served basis depending on seating availability. It is advisable to arrive early as 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 service: 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, one 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 you to do so.

Useful information

  • Address: 130W 116th Street.
  • Day and time of service: Sunday at 9am and 10.15am and Wednesday at 7pm.
  • Directions: Subway Line 2 or 3 to Harlem-125th Street.

Book a 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 neighbourhood. 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 service: Sunday.
  • How to get there: 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 tourist favourite.

This church mixes regular parishioners with tourists, so you can experience the church in a more indigenous and fully integrated way.

Some useful information

  • Address: 1912 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd.
  • Day and time of service: Sunday, 7:30am, 9:30am and 11:30am.
  • 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 choice for a gospel service.

The mass has a longer duration, estimated at around three hours. It's a real spectacle that you can also enjoy streaming because it has a live streaming section on its website. 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 a good thing because the gospel masses tend to be quite crowded. But, on the downside, it is not as spectacular a mass as the ones mentioned above, because they sing for less time.

Useful information

  • Address: 152 W 127th Street.
  • Day and time of mass: Sunday, 9.30am.
  • How to get there: Subway line 2 or 3 to Harlem-125th Street.

Book a Harlem Gospel Mass Tour

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 the religious spectacle with all your senses.

Useful information

  • Address: 141 W 115th Street.
  • Day and time of service: Sunday, 11:00 am.
  • How to get there: Subway Line 2 or 3 to Harlem-116th Street.

8. Antioch Baptist Church

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

AntiochChurch does make a distinction between locals and tourists, however, you can still experience what a gospel experience really is in a vibrant atmosphere.

Useful information

  • Address: 515 W 125th Street.
  • Day and time of service: Sunday, 10:30am.
  • How to get there: 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 services. In this case, you'll be seated 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.
  • How to get there: 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 neighbourhood with a guide who will tell you interesting facts about the history of the area. I think that this way, by soaking up the context and getting to know the place you are in, you can enjoy the experience inside the church and everything that surrounds it much more.

Regardless of which option you choose, you should know that most Gospel masses take place on Sundays (with the occasional exception on Wednesdays). So bear this in mind when going on your own and organising your trip. If you opt for the guided tour option, these are the options I recommend:

  • Tour of Harlem with gospel mass on Sunday: the advantage of going on this day is that you'll find a livelier atmosphere than on Wednesday.
  • Tour of Harlem with gospel mass on Wednesday (currently not available on Hellotickets): in this case, the atmosphere may be quieter, but private transport 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 9am, 11am and 1pm and lasts about an hour and a half.

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

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

Traveller's tip

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

Things you should 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 terms 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 should enter before the service 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 stated, no photography or filming is allowed.
  • A donation is usually requested from all attendees.

How to get to Harlem

The most convenient way to visit a gospel service is by underground. 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 you want to continue enjoying new experiences when this experience is over, visit the post about The 10 best tours of New York in Spanish. You can even stay in Harlem and continue to enjoy all its history and African-American culture.

Book a tour of Harlem