Do you know those celebrations with choirs like the ones you see in American movies? They are not limited to movies! A lot of people that come to New York take the opportunity to check out one of these celebrations. One of the most famous churches is The Brooklyn Tabernacle and there is always someone asking me about it (schedules, rules, tips, etc) – so, I thought that a post about it would be interesting. And I invited Grace Soares to this special assignment. Grace lives here in New York and also writes a blog with tips on the city – you can click here to check it out. Besides, she and her husband are members of the church, so I guess no one better than her to tell you everything!
“I was very happy to have been invited by Laura to talk about a place that I am, among many other words, passionate about, which is The Brooklyn Tabernacle church. I live in New York for almost two years. From the very first when I visited the church, I was sure that it would not be the only time I would be there. Today we (my husband and I) are members of this great family and every day I feel even more honored to be part of BT.
Brooklyn Tabernacle is a very typical church in the United States, where worship is followed by a large and lively choir, and the church itself has a very different structure from the ones we are used to. Here, for example, the church sits inside a theater, the old Loew’s Metropolitan, which is beautiful, and has capacity for 3,200 people seated, making it one of the biggest theaters in New York.
In addition to the members, the church receives thousands of tourists and visitors every week, and the main reason for this is the opportunity to be able to watch the so renowned and award-winning choir “The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir”. With more than 200 voices, it became famous worldwide for being a 6th Grammy Awards winner and for its participation in the US President Barack Obama’s inauguration, in 2013. I can tell from personal experience that listening to them is really exciting. You have three opportunities to see them, on Sundays, at 9 am, 11 am and 1 pm services, all with an average duration of 1h and 40 minutes. The worship begins with three praises, followed by the choir, which sings three songs on average and is finished with a word by a local pastor, Pastor Cymbala. All the worship is in English and the church has no simultaneous translation for those who do not speak the language, but since there are many songs and the worship is very lively, it is well worth the experience and you can still practice your English!
All celebrations are free and seats are not reserved, so the tip is to get there about 30 minutes before (especially if you have more people with you) to get a great place. As the church receives a lot of people, at the entrance of the church there will be a line so that you can wait for the beginning of the respective service. If you can not stay until the end of the celebration, it is important that you look for a place where you will not disturb other members when you leave (they have other rooms reserved for this). If you are visiting New York with your whole family, including your children, the church has a ministry called BT Kids, with specific programs for children of different ages, at the same time as worship services, so you can enjoy it without worry as long as they have fun the same way. It is good to remember that videos and photography are not allowed during worship services, but if you arrive a little before the beginning, you have time to register your visit to BT and, if you are lucky, watch the rehearsing choir (there is no schedule for this).
The dress code of the place is formal (especially on Sundays) but not to the extreme. Jeans and T-shirts for example are well accepted, but you will also see some people dressed in suits and ties, high heels and hats (I think it’s very cute when I see the ladies dressed like this). It is worth remembering that as you are visiting a church, is super important to remember about this when you get dressed. If your stay in NYC is too short and a Sunday is not part of your calendar, you still have other options to visit the church during the week. On Tuesdays a prayer service is held beginning at 7:00 p.m. – doors open at 5:00 p.m., and, as the theme itself says, it is a service of a different purpose, with a focus on prayer, but often The Brooklyn Tabernacle Singers (a very reduced version of the choir) sings this day. And for those who are younger, the Movement held on Fridays at 7pm has a different style of worship, with more songs and interactions between them (the choir does not sing at this service as well).
At The Brooklyn Tabernacle, you feel at home: they welcome tourists very well and have a great affection for them all. I believe it is an incredible place to visit regardless of the religion of each one, I think it is a great opportunity to thank God for being in this beautiful city!
Special Christmas Schedule
Every year, around this time (next to Christmas), The Brooklyn Tabernacle performs a Christmas Musical, for all the families. With songs, dance performances, and plays, the church does not save money when it comes to capturing and surprising visitors. Last year for example, in addition to the beautiful message delivered, the whole church saw snowflakes coming down the auditorium at the end of the presentation. The whole structure of the church is prepared in advance for this celebration: lights, cameras, sound effects, anyway, you feel at a Broadway show, or as I’ve been told, it’s even better. All presentations are free and take place and you can check out the website close to the date to find out about the schedule for the current year.
Do you want to know more about the church before you visit? Here on their website you can watch the services and still get more information.
Address: 17 Smith Street, Brooklyn. 2,3,4 e 5 lines – to Borough Hall or A, C, R e F lines – to Jay Street Metrotech.
Grace, thank you for this amazing post, full of details! I’m sure this information will help everyone who is visiting The Brooklyn Tabernacle. Do not forget to check Grace’s blog by clicking here. She also has a Youtube channel and she is also on Instagram (@blogmefazsorrir).
Content creator and journalist in New York City. Here, I share lifestyle, beauty, NYC tips, thoughts, and the struggles about living in the most amazing city in the world! I’m not gonna pretend to be another person: I’m a Brazilian immigrant and I think this is my soul, it is part of who I am. I hope you enjoy my content! Follow me on Instagram!