Churches are integral to the identity of Harlem and have played an important role in its history.
They were intricately involved in the power struggles that shaped not only the borough but the country as a whole.
Ever since the early years, churches have served as focal points for the life and culture of Harlem.
They have also been integral to political and social power struggles which determine the character of the community.
A Church in Harlem is more than a place of worship — it’s also a center for politics, entertainment, and social support.
Churches frequently host dinner nights, barbecues, meetings with the pastors and get-togethers in the social hall.
They also organize food drives, job fairs, blood-drives and other events to help out the community.
Their congregations have created a deeply rooted and lively sense of community.
Many churches have struggled to stay open due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Some have remained open for individual prayer and public worship whereas others have been closed for over a year.
Some churches have even served their local community as voccine locations throughout the pandemic.
Here are four churches in Harlem that are currently open to the public despite the ongoing restrictions.
CONVENT AVENUE BAPTIST CHURCH
420 W 145th St, New York, NY 10031
The Convent Avenue Baptist Church was founded in 1942 by Dr. John W. Saunders, formerly pastor of the Walker Memorial Baptist Church. The church has six musical choirs and a spoken word Scripture Choir.
CANAAN BAPTIST CHURCH OF CHRIST
132 W 116th St, New York, NY 10026
Canaan Baptist Church of Christ is a historic Baptist Church based in central Harlem. It has been an ambassador of Christian faith since it opened its doors in 1932.
MOTHER AFRICAN METHODIST EPISCOPAL ZION CHURCH
140 W 137th St, New York, NY 10030
Founded in 1796 the Mother African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, better known as "Mother Zion”, is the oldest African American church in New York and a designated New York City landmark.
SALEM UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
2190 Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvd, New York, NY 10027
Salem United Methodist Church was founded in 1881 as a mission of St. Mark’s Methodist Episcopal Church. They are a multi-ethnic and intergenerational community of faith reaching out locally and globally in the name of Jesus Christ.