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Home > Arts & Events > Abyssinian Baptist Church

Abyssinian Baptist Church

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132 W. 138th St. , New York, NY 10030 40.8164 -73.9404
nr. Lenox Ave.  See Map | Subway Directions Hopstop Popup
212-862-7474 Send to Phone

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  • Type: Community Centers, Historic New York, Religious Sites

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Official Website

abyssinian.org

Hours

Daily, 10am-6pm

Nearby Subway Stops

2, 3 at 135th St.

Parking

  • Nearby Parking Lots
  • Street Parking

Profile

A group of Ethiopian merchants and free African-Americans established the first Abyssinian Baptist Church on Worth Street in 1808 after refusing to accept segregated services in downtown’s First Baptist Church. Following a move to Waverly Place, the church finally procured enough money under pastor Adam Clayton Powell Sr. to build this formidable, stained-glassed structure on 138th Street in 1923, solidifying a name as the largest racially inclusive Baptist church in the country at the time. Inside, semicircular rows of wooden pews and sunny rafters are laid out in front of a white marble pulpit, crowned by a balcony for crimson-robed gospel singers and arches of stained-glass windows. The 1,300-seat sanctuary hosts politically driven services in which the sermons are often rivaled in intensity only by the pipes on the church’s two organs. Sit in on the right Sunday morning and you might catch a glimpse of some high-profile attendees (like Vogue luminary André Leon Talley and his celebrity guest du jour) among the generations of local congregants and pious out-of-towners.

Extra

The church has flooded over $300 million into Harlem’s economy through its Abyssinian Development Corporation, funding projects like the Harlem Economic Literacy Program.

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