A Black Church Near You in New York


Candidates for mayor typically spend much of their campaigning time speaking directly to voters at black churches, but last year’s coronavirus pandemic prevented this practice and kept many politicians away from church pews.

Still, Black church leaders remain significant in New York City. Various leaders discussed their challenges and future expectations when interviewed for this article.

1. Mother African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church

Mother African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church (more commonly known as simply AME Zion) is one of New York City’s oldest black congregations, dating back to 1796 when its original members left John Street Methodist Church because of discrimination and created their congregation and building within what later became part of AME Zion conference denomination derived from black abolitionists. Over time, this congregation grew and fostered its own identity through religious and social activism.

In 1820, the Zion Conference separated from the white Methodist Episcopal Church to become an independent conference and was later renamed Mother AME Zion. A few years later, this church helped secure emancipation for all slaves in New York State and has continued as a leader of black community life by supporting civil rights organizations and advocating for equal opportunities for all people – its membership having included notable figures such as Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, Madam C.J Walker and Paul Robeson among many others.

George W. Foster Jr was one of the first black architects registered in the US; his neo-Gothic style building reflects both its period and liberation theology roots; it holds James Varick’s tomb within its walls, making it a New York City landmark. Additionally, its long tradition of service to its members and community makes this church one of New York City’s premier congregations with various social programs geared toward community involvement and involvement.

Mother AME Zion Church has long been known for its musical activities, with performances from notable performers like Langston Hughes, Count Basie, William Grant Still, and more taking place over time. Today’s musical program of Mother AME Zion Choir, Children of Peace Choir, and Youth Chorus continues this legacy and hosts many different performances throughout the year, such as gospel shows and Christmas events.

2. Congregational United Church of Christ

The United Church of Christ is a mainline Protestant denomination founded in 1957 from the merger between two New England Puritanism-related groups—the Evangelical and Reformed Church and General Council of Congregational Christian Churches—both having roots in New England Puritanism. Their core doctrine holds that “God loves all creation,” including humankind.

According to a survey by the Hartford Institute for Religion Research, most United Church of Christ members identify themselves as moderate or liberal. The denomination has long been known for its social activism in support of LGBT rights and pro-choice positions, yet critics of UCC remain present – more conservative members often criticize its commitment to political correctness and liberal beliefs; some even leave due to this political agenda.

United Church of Christ churches offer community service programs, choir music, children’s ministry programs, and domestic and abroad missions. Furthermore, UCC addresses numerous social issues like environmental sustainability and hunger relief. Recently, it also became an advocate for gun control by placing 120 wooden crosses and Stars of David on its front lawn with a sign reading ‘GUNS KILL 120 PEOPLE DAILY IN THE USA’ to demonstrate this point.

The United Church of Christ is an immensely varied denomination with global reach and members from various cultures and traditions. It welcomes all who seek its sanctuary and strives to build an interconnected world where everyone has a place. Many congregations of the UCC offer open and affirming services; others specialize in HIV/AIDS or disability support or have specific ministries for people with disabilities. Notable ones are Trinity UCC in Chicago, which has one of the largest LGBTQ ministries, while Cathedral of Hope in Dallas claims over 4,000 local members with 52,000 adherents worldwide!

3. Canaan Baptist Church

Harlem Baptist Church is one of the best-known Baptist congregations, drawing visitors from around the globe. Their services are full of infectious energy typical of the African-American religious experience and feature gospel music and dynamic preaching to create an engaging worship experience that both intellectually and emotionally fulfills.

One of the more exciting incidents at this church was when an usher attempted to stop a gospel singer from selling CDs to tourists waiting outside. He told her she should leave, but she insisted on staying. So, the usher called the police instead and allowed the gospel singer to continue her efforts.

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4. Trinity United Church of Christ

Trinity United Church of Christ offers an inviting and diverse congregation to assist your spiritual journey. Offering worship services, educational courses, and community involvement programs tailored specifically to its membership and serving its local neighborhood community are just some of the services offered here.

Kenneth Smith founded this church in 1957 after being appointed by the Chicago Congregational Christian Association of the United Church of Christ to develop one for middle-class African Americans. Two existing African-American congregations of United Church of Christ-Good Shepherd and Park Manor-had already begun operations some distance away in older South Side neighborhoods, so it aimed to build one for middle-class blacks that would eventually merge with suburban white congregations to have both white and black co-pastors—an integrationist goal explicitly intended by this goal.

The United Church of Christ is an inclusive faith movement that grants its local churches wide latitude in matters of theology. The UCC’s history includes early opposition to slavery and its first African-American ordination (1885). Social issues like immigration reform and rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people remain at the core of its mission statement.