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Celebration at Abyssinian Baptist Church

Through words, music, dance, visual and fine arts and service to one another—our joy in the Lord is made manifest in many forms. “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.” –Philippians 4:4


Butler-Melba-colorKarenDowling_72Colored Orphans Asylum Memorial Stone Dedication

Bless the little children: Aby members, Karen Dixon, Executive Director, Harlem Dowling-West Side Center and Dr. Melba Butler, former Executive Director, Harlem Dowling-West Side Center presided over the recent Memorial Stone Dedication Ceremony in Valhalla, NY, honoring the 57 children and staff buried in unmarked graves at Kensico Cemetery there.  Our Pastor, Rev. Dr. Calvin O. Butts, III was present to deliver the invocation at the ceremony.


The Harlem Dowling-West Side Center for Children and Family Services and the Hebrew Home at Riverdale honored those children and staff. Former residents of the Colored Orphan Asylum along with their families and dignitaries, commemorated the children that were laid to rest between 1901 and 1967 in the orphanage’s cemetery lot.

Though few records from the early 20th century exist, death certificates reveal the causes of death for many as tuberculosis, pneumonia, or other respiratory problems. The belated dedication of the cemetery monument came to fruition as the result of previous collaborations between Harlem Dowling-West Side Center and Hebrew Home at Riverdale, including two alumni reunions. Harlem Dowling-West Side Center for Children and Family Services was created by the merger of the West Side Center for Children founded as the Association for the Benefit of Colored Orphans in the City of New York and Harlem Dowling Children’s Services, established in 1969.

59126_ColoredOrphAsylumExtThe Colored Orphan Asylum was an institution in New York City open from 1836-1946 that housed on average four hundred children annually. In 1944 the asylum was renamed the Riverdale Children’s Association.





20160607_162740Fred Samuel Houses Gym Gets a Makeover

Makeover Magic: A ribbon-cutting ceremony took place at the Frederick E. Samuel Community Center, 669 Lenox Ave. to mark the newly refurbished gymnasium, which features a new scoreboard and refinished floors. Financial support came from drug trafficking proceeds obtained during criminal prosecutions by the Office of Special Narcotics Prosecutor.

Bridget G. Brennan, New York City’s Special Narcotics Prosecutor, New York City Police Commissioner William J. Bratton, Frederick J. Watts, Executive Director of New York City’s Police Athletic League (PAL), and Gerald Nelson, New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) Vice President for Security announced the unveiling of a newly refurbished gymnasium at the Frederick E. Samuel Houses, A New York City Housing Authority development.

Following the ceremony, there was a PAL “Cops & KIDS” basketball game between youth that play for the Frederick E. Samuel Houses Community Center basketball team and officers from the New York City Police Department’s (NYPD) 32nd Precinct and Police Service Area 6. Our community youth were victorious!




AbyssinianWEST Project Hits Funding Milestone

Turn on the Lights, Abyssinian! Abyssinian’s Go West project, AbyssinianWEST, hit its first milestone as enough funds were raised though church member pledges and donations to pay for one floor of the building.

AbyssinianWEST project, to fund a $12 million, five-story education and community center adjacent to the church, is expected to be completed in late 2017. The church is seeking 100 percent member participation to fund the campaign.

All praises to our Lord, Beloved!



MARY 2-cropDeaconess OliveDeaconness Olive, Missionary Faulker Lauded for Service

Well done, good and faithful servants! Let’s applaud Abyssinian’s Deaconess Chair, Eleanor Olive, and our Missionary member, Mary Faulkner, who were honored for outstanding service at the 121st Semi-Annual Session of the Women’s Auxiliary to the Empire Baptist Missionary Convention in Albany, NY. Kudos, Beloved!



Kathy Card BeckelsKathryn Card Beckles Lauded by Metro Black Bar Association

Legal Eagle: Sister Kathryn Card Beckles  has been honored as “Corporate Counsel of the Year” by the Metropolitan Black Bar Association for her work as General Counsel of Card Services for JP Morgan Chase and Company. She is a strong member of the church and works in the Nursery Ministry.

Make a joyful noise, Beloved!


Rev Calvin Butts-1Rev. Butts’ Oral History in Library of Congress

A video oral history interview of the Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts, III, Abyssinian’s pastor, is now a permanent part of the HistoryMakers collection at the Library of Congress.

The HistoryMarkers archive provides first-person accounts of both well-known and unsung African-Americans, detailing their hopes, dreams and accomplishments. Comprising 2,600 videotaped interviews, it is believed to be the single largest archival collection of its kind in the world. It has a goal of completing 5,000 interviews and is designed to include the stories of individuals, African American organizations, events, movements and periods of time that are significant to the African American community.

To date, the oldest HistoryMaker is 105 years old; the youngest is 29 and the archive contains more than 8,000 hours of African American testimony on videotape. In addition to Rev. Butts, interviewees include Ralph AbernathyLani GuinierSimeon BookerAngela DavisOssie DavisLena HorneAndrew Young and then-Senator Barak Obama. Glory be to God, Beloved!


Witness: Two Hundred Years of African-American Faith and Practice in the Abyssinian Baptist Church of Harlem, New York

Celebrating 208 Years and Counting!

 “Witness: Two Hundred Years of African-American Faith and Practice at the Abyssinian Baptist Church of Harlem, New York.” 

Read it again: “Witness” is a detailed history of our beloved church beginning with its formal organization in 1809 and continuing through its relocations, its famous senior pastors, and its many crises and triumphs, up to our 200th anniversary year in 2008.

In the book authors Genna Rae McNeil, Houston Bryan Roberson, Quinton Hosford Dixie, and Kevin McGruder have captured the rich legacy of Abyssinian, and explore the important role it played in the history of New York City. Includes photos and afterwords by Cornel West and Cheryl Townsend Gilkes.

As Abyssinian celebrates its 207th year and embarks on another phase of its history with AbyssinianWEST, pick up your copy of “Witness” for a second read–or a first!



Woman in Red with beansAby Fund Seeks US Outlets for Ethiopian Coffee

In 2007, in celebration of our bicentennial (in 2008), 165 members of The Abyssinian Baptist Church made a spiritual pilgrimage to our ancestral homeland of Ethiopia. As a result, the pilgrims founded the Abyssinian Fund, with the mission to reduce poverty in Ethiopia. The fund seeks to fulfill its mission by partnering with farming communities supplying training and equipment that allows them to produce  best coffee.

The Abyssinian Fund, along with David Robinson, the son of baseball legend, Jackie Robinson, is seeking to forge a deal where coffee beans grown in the Ethiopian village of Chaffee Jenette are distributed in retail outlets, restaurants and hotels throughout New York City and Harlem.

Please visit for the latest updates on the work of the Abyssinian Fund.