Black Churches Struggle in Harlem Under Gentrification

Tourists fill the balconies of Canaan Baptist Church of Christ in Harlem, while pews for members go empty

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black churchAs Harlem’s racial makeup changes, membership and tithe amounts at some of the historical churches have fallen.

“Your tithers are your people who really keep your church going as a whole,” the Rev. Dr. Charles A. Curtis, the senior pastor at Mount Olivet Baptist Church and the chairman of Harlem Congregations for Community Improvement, told the New York Times. “With the drop in population,” he said, “you have less people to tithe.”

The Rev. Jesse T. Williams Jr., senior pastor at Convent Avenue Baptist Church, said, tithes in recent years were down about 12 percent at his church.

Some churches have experienced drops in tithing of as much as 50 percent, Deborah C. Wright, the chief executive of Carver Federal Savings Bank said.