Phone: (212) 749-9102
This is the Harlem Square Church, which unlike the other churches on the block, was not open at 3:00 pm on a Tuesday. Also, unlike the other churches, this one specifically operates for the sole benefit of improving the lives of young adults, rather than individuals of all ages and backgrounds. The church holds bible studies and services for disadvantaged children. Its intentions and purpose are portrayed by the images that it displays on its bulletin board.
The images on the board include a swinging monkey and a cartoon of man looking up at God, or a bright light for salvation. The Monkey is important because it is indicative of the church’s mission to teach children that religious education is fun. This playful and colorful approach was probably known to be effective because the foundation of the church was inspired by volunteers from a bigger organization called the Time Square Church who spent a summer teaching Bible Study at an elementary school near by. The program was so successful and popular amongst the students, that the Time Square Church initiated this year-round Harlem church for similar young adults in need of guidance and wholesome playtime.
The cartoon man looking up at the bright light is emblematic of the church’s mission to teach children that they can have a bright future ahead of them if they have faith in themselves and God. Most of the children that attend the services are victims of broken homes and street violence, so the church tries to provide the children with the positive attitudes that they need to escape the oppression that they are subject to.
On a completely different note, this small, personal program shows how powerful Christianity is as a philanthropic institution. After doing online research on The Harlem Square Church, I learned that it is a very small branch of a very large- scale organization called the Time Square Church, which owns many other ministries that are very influential around NY and NJ. The Time Square Church seems very commercialized and well endowed. The organization does not have roots in Harlem, but it is powerful and wealthy enough to reach out to the Harlem community, as well as other poor neighborhoods around the world. Because the church was not founded in Harlem, it serves its purpose in Harlem, but does not have the same feeling as some of the older, smaller churches founded by and for the Harlem community.