D3 New York - HarlemJuly 7, 2019 in the United States ⋅ ☀️ 24 °C
So one thing that we said was non-negotiable whilst we were here in NY was attending a worship service at an African-American Baptist church in Harlem. It came highly recommend by family and friends who had lived here for a time- one friend said “It’ll hit you like a punch to the chest.”. Oh and most importantly “Make sure they don’t sit you with the tourists!”. So we both did some research and picked a few potential churches, and fell asleep with the intention of making an 8am service...
...I woke up at 9am. The subway got us promptly to central Harlem just before 10am where we walked a short distance to one of the largest churches in the area. We took one look at the MASSIVE queue that was halfway round the block and turned straight- one minute up the road was Canaan Baptist Church of Christ, and the sound of a woman already singing drew us in.
We were reminded to not take photos or videos and were ushered to a pew towards the front by a lovely man in white gloves, sitting us down amongst the rest of the congregation. From what we could see, us and the few tourists attending were scattered throughout the church, and we all looked a tad shabby next to everyone else who was in their Sunday best. This included floral hats and a lot of red and white clothing matching the church’s logo colours. The woman had since stopped singing but a young girl of about 7 years of age stood up on the stage and started singing “This little heart of mine” accompanied by a young man (who would later make his own mark as soloist). This was just the entree to a 2.5 hour feast of constant proclamations of joy and love through song, the reading and preaching of His Holy Scripture and also the participation of those attending. The choir was so full of energy and encouragement that many people were constantly up on their feet in response, reaching out and thanking God - ‘hallelujah,’ ‘praise the Lord’ they would call. Those who remained seated were no less passionate, clapping with each song and wiping away tears of joy.
The message given by the Reverend Johnson Sr., was delivered simply and effectively (‘an unchanging god that has the power to change things’), after which we continued with the Lord’s Supper- a great ending to a big morning.
The people at Canaan were so beautifully welcoming to us and we never felt out of place once. The church had a formal welcome to visitors in their service but it was the handshakes and welcomes of those seated around us that made us feel most at home.
For the remainder of the day- we lunched and then went to join our friend for her final wedding dress fitting. We will unfortunately miss her and her fiancées wedding by a week (🤯) here in NY, but having the chance to see her in her wedding dress was priceless. She is going to make a jaw-dropping bride 🥰
And then we shopped. Again.
TOP 3 Highlights of today:
1. Holding hands - at the end of the service, every person in the congregation held hands and swayed in unison after the communion (which was delivered by these cute little disposable packages that looked like the milk cups hosting a mini wafer above some Ribena).
2. Final fitting - having the opportunity to see our friend Gemma collect her wedding dress.
3. Seeing the sun - today was the first day where the sun completely cut the clouds away and provided us with a stunning summery evening that caused the buildings to glow.Read more