Jessica Mousseau is a copywriter & copy editor from the United States. Her work can be viewed at: www.jessicamousseau.com.
Published May 15th 2011
New York City is home to some of the most beautiful churches in the world. Many of them have had the honor of earning their place in history either through their founders or through the famous happenings that have occurred there. Many have served as a place for people to bid goodbye to famous people. When visiting New York churches, please remember that these are active houses of worship. Even when worship services are not being held, you are still in a religious place, and should conduct yourself accordingly.
This church was founded in 1808 as a result of a split with First Baptist Church by parishioners who did not like the idea of segregated seating for black and white worshipers. The name "Abyssinian" comes from Ethiopia's original name—Abyssinia. The church is located in Harlem, and has long been a center for cultural life in this neighborhood. It is still an active church, with Sunday morning services being held at 9:00 AM and 11:00 AM.
This church is considered the official Cathedral of the Episcopal Diocese of New York. Each year, the annual Blessing of the Animals occurs. New Yorkers bring their family pets to be blessed; there have even been a few farm animals brought to receive the blessing on their special day. Tradition holds that the Blessing of the Animals once even extended to elephants. Unfortunately, an errant (we hope) kick by one of these massive beasts to a parishioner ended that. Now, only slightly smaller animals can be brought into the building. "People" services are held daily beginning at 8:00 AM. You can attend any of the services being held if you wish.
This is one of the churches which has had the honor of being used for the final services honoring the lives of such famous people as Robert F. Kennedy, Joe DiMaggio, and others. Sitting among the skyscrapers of Midtown Manhattan, the church actually offers a refreshing change from the normal New York City view. Weekends are usually the most crowded times, as tourists often visit on these days. If you want to miss the crowds, try to go during a weekday. Again, remember, this is an active church, so please be respectful, especially if services are being conducted.
This meeting house has served those who practice the Quaker religion since 1694. Besides serving as a place of worship for both the early Quaker settlers as well as those who worship today, Friends Meeting House was also a "stop" on the Underground Railroad, as Quakers were opposed to slavery. This, too, is an active church with services being held the first Sunday of every month at 11:00 AM. If you like, you can attend the service then enjoy a tour of the church afterward from 12:00 to 12:30 PM.
The synagogue was founded in September, 1654, by Spanish and Portuguese Jews. This gives it the honor of being the oldest known congregation in New York. The congregation did not actually worship in a building until 1730, when the first synagogue was built. The location changed several times, and today it is at the 70th Street location, where it has been for 113 years. This is an active synagogue, with morning and evening services held daily, as well as Sabbath and holiday services. If you go, please be mindful that a service may be in progress.