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Elmendorf Reformed Church

About this listing

Historic church and African burial ground

Place Details

Borough : Manhattan
Neighborhood : East Harlem
Burial Site, Place of Worship

Place Matters Profile


Anonymous Nominator

The Elmendorf Reformed Church formerly known as the First Church of Harlem, also known as the Dutch Reformed Church of Harlem was established in 1660. In 1665 it erected a church building at the corner of First Avenue and 127th Street and received its charter making it the oldest formal church in Harlem. Thus, with this charter the Village of Harlem was established. A quarter acre of land connected with the church was set aside and became known as the "Negro Burying Ground' (hereinafter called the "African Burial Ground". A major fire took place during the Revolutionary War and the original church structure was destroyed but subsequently relocated to its current site at 171 East 121st Street.

The church is a three story structure. The Social Hall is located in the lower level. The conference room, offices and nursery room are located on the second level. The Sanctuary is located on the third landing. Over the years there have been many changes to the original building but fortunately the Chapel structure still remains intact which now serves as the main sanctuary and is officially designated as an historical landmark. Sunday worship services take place every Sunday at 11:00 am. The current pastor is Reverend Dr. Patricia A. Singletary. Our mission statement reads" We are called into service to embrace and empower the community. The mission of Elmendorf Reformed Church is to reach out to the community and beyond by witnessing, winning souls and glorifying God through Jesus Christ empowered by the Holy Spirit. We have been blessed to receive visitors weekly from all over the world. The church welcomes all to attend. The Harlem African Burial Ground Task Force is a group of concerned citizens who have united to help Elmendorf Reformed Church to restore and memorialize its historically and culturally significant colonial African Burial Ground at First Avenue between 127th and 126th Streets. It meets every last Thursday of the month at 4:00 pm and is open to the public.

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