Late October 2011 me and my wife made a visit of New York. I had a couple of business meetings in town and an exhibition regarding my job on schedule. But for Sunday we did plan to enjoy our self. We are Christians which recently did marry. So of course our Sunday should start with a worship.
I did find several churches around the town which could have been visited. We decided to visit a worship down in Harlem. From several websites we knew that there are several chapels that are mainly visited by tourists just for amusement. This wasn´t the purpose for us. I wanted to enjoy the spirit of having a real worship.
To make this happen, we tried to find a church that is as less touristic as possible. Based on the information we got online, we decided to visit “Mount Nebho Baptist Church”. This church invited us online by saying: “
“Welcome! We are overjoyed at the fact that you have visited our online ministry. We would like to personally invite you to join us in one of our worship services here at the Mount Neboh Baptist Church. Anytime you are in the New York Metropolitan area, please visit with us on the hottest corner in Harlem. Don’t forget to bring a friend or a family member and we look forward to seeing you real soon.”
Since I couldn´t find any offers for tourists I hoped that we will get access after talking to the minister and explaining that we are here to worship and not to disturb the celebration in the way tourists are doing it elsewhere.
Once we reached the church early Sunday morning, everything seems to be fine. As expected only a very small group of tourists have been in the line. This was very different to the lines we have seen in front of other churches we did pass.
Unfortunately everything changed very soon. When I asked for talking to the minister, politely I was prompted to go into the line. Since the line was short I still expected to visit a regular worship without all this touristic stuff. But it became even worse.
The line, we have been around 10 feet away from its beginning, kept on growing and growing. This still didn´t seem to become an issue. I still expected that soon the church members to be seated first. This of course would have been fine.
Starting at 10:40 one bus after another arrived.
People from all over the world jumped out of the busses. Crying, laughing, wearing al kind of clothing. I bet that more than 90% haven´t seen a church from inside for a very long time.
I became angry when all of the group got into the church before us. Please consider that we have been waiting for 45 minutes outside at this time. Temperature around 32 degree Fahrenheit.
In the meantime a young lady did show up. She asked us to be patient. We need to wait until all busses are inside. Than she did start counting. A few rows behind us I could hear her saying that being seated might be unlikely for the people afterwards.
I became even more angry. What the …. Was going on? What I could see did have nothing to do with a regular worship. It became, what I call “Selling of God”.
Church did start at 11:00am with us still standing outside. Finally the last bus did arrive. I guess nobody of this tourists did care that they have been late. They entered the church disrespecting any of the rules. They even didn´t stayed quite. I couldn´t believe what I have experienced in the past 75 minutes.
This was to much. So I stepped outside the line to ask the lady as well as the over weighted bouncer what this is all about.
He yelled at me that I shouldn´t disrespect him and that I should “move my ass back in the line”! I asked back, why they are giving access to people that don´t care about the spirit, first without considering that there might be people that really want to worship. Again he yelled that I´m not allowed to disrespect him, the dekan (dean) of this church, by asking this questions. He does not care about my wish to worship. If I want to have access, I should buy a ticket for a bus tour as everybody else. If I have a problem, I should talk to his manager. He than pointed out to a thin white man standing right behind him. I was fed up. I couldn´t believe this.
I remembered the sentences I did read on their website: “ We would like to personally invite you to join us in one of our worship services here at the Mount Neboh Baptist Church”. At this Sunday morning, this sentence turned out to be nothing else than pure crap.
In fact all they did in fact was selling God to those who pay. I don´t know how the service in this church has been held. So I can´t say if it was more a show for the crowed or a real worship for some believer and hundreds of gaper.
We left Harlem as fast as possible.
As a lesson to learn out of it I came to the following conclusion. If you are a believer willing to worship on Sundays in New York please choose any church outside Harlem. In case somebody has a good example for a church inside Harlem, please feel free to let me know. I would love to guide believers there.
If you are a tourist that wants to visit a worship show like a Broadway show please sign up for a bus tour. Prices start at $40 and can bee booked in almost every hotel.
Hope this helps all believers and tourists in the same way.
(Btw. Picture and some films I will post soon)