A Blog for Sunday
Royce V. Gregerson
By 10:00 a.m. we were all downstairs in our Sunday best, for me a suit and tie. Then it was on the subway and back up to Harlem for the 11:00 service at the Abyssinian Baptist Church, a historically African-American church. When we arrived at the church, an usher outside told us we would have to wait outside until our reservation was confirmed. A reservation? At a church? To top it off, my suit was not warm, and it was starting to snow. But eventually the 9:00 service let out and we were admitted. We were seated in the balcony, but I liked that because we could see everything that was going on.
After church we went to an excellent soul food restaurant in Harlem called Sylvia’s, where there was live soul / Gospel music. After one incredible plate of catfish, collared greens, candied yams, and sweet tea, it really felt like Sunday after church. The owner and foundress, Sylvia, even came out to meet all of us. She was a very sweet lady.
Later, I went to a Catholic church near our hostel, the Church of the Ascension, for evening Mass. It turned out to be their “Jazz Mass,” and the music was much more on the contemporary side than Abyssinian.
Afterwards, someone announced that tonight would be Martini night. At first, I assumed this was some cheesy acronym for a new church program, but it turns out the man was serious. In the church basement there was dinner and cocktails. I got a chance to chat with several locals, including a couple that had just moved to the West End from Germany, students from Columbia University, and a med student who came all the way from Cornell.