Columbia University IRAAS
Mar 13 11

The United House of Prayer for All People

The United House of Prayer for All People is a national Pentecostal church, which is also known as “United House of Prayer for All People of the Church on the Rock of the Apostolic Faith. This church was founded by Marcelino Manuel de Gracia, who was born in the Cape Verde Islands, but who then officially changed his name to Bishop Daddy Grace in 1919 upon the creation of the church’s first building in West Wareham, Massachusets. There is a branch of this church, in many US cities around the US ranging from Harlem, NYC  to San Francisco, but their national headquarters is in Washington DC. In total, there is 131 places of worship in 26 US states. The church estimates that it has around 1.5 million members total. Pentecostalism focuses on a direct and personal experience of God through the Holy Spirit and the baptism, but this church is mostly known for its mass baptisms by fire hose which started in the 1920s after Bishop Daddy Grace brought the religion to the people. The location in Harlem, as it is a central location, just one block away from the Apollo theatre, doubles as a form of community center. The Village Voice advertises the band “McCollough Sons of Thunder Brass Band” as having played at the United House of Prayer for All People in 2002. The United House of Prayer for All People not only offers music concert, they also have a popular cafeteria that serves soul food. According to the food blog, “,” this cafeteria is a very popular spot. They serve popular (and apparently delicious) soul food such as pig’s feet, meat loaf, mac n cheese, collard greens, bakes fish, cole slaw, candied yam and cornbread, all for reasonable pricing, cafeteria style and open to the public. By locals, this cafeteria is referred to as “UHOP”, a play on the popular chain “IHOP”, and short for “United House Of Prayer.” This church, which is part of a national organization of churches, is connected to its national heritage but also to harlem, as it offers music and food to the harlem community.

This church, as part of a national organization, is a large population grabber in Harlem. It’s location by the Apollo theatre places it in a well populated and touristy area, but also, its placement over the Citi Bank demonstrates the relationship between religion and the urban world that is so prominent in Harlem. Rather than this church being secluded in a suburban area with fields in gardens, it is fully integrated into the city.

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