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Riverside Church The Highlights
Conceived by industrialist, financier, and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller Jr. as a large, interdenominational church, Riverside Church is open to all who profess faith in Christ. Its congregation includes more than forty ethnic groups. Situated at one of the highest points of New York City, overlooking the Hudson River and 122nd Street, The Church is modeled after the 13th Century gothic cathedral in Chartres, France. One hundred feet wide and covering two city blocks, construction began in 1927 with the first service held on October 5, 1930. The Nave seats nearly 2,000 worshipers and the 20-floor tower, rising to a height of 392 feet, contains the 74-bell Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial Carillon. The Carillon’s 20-ton Bourdon bell is the largest tuned bell in the world. The Labyrinth on the floor of the chancel has been adapted from the maze at Chartres and the beautiful and intimate Christ Chapel is patterned after the eleventh century Romanesque nave of the fortress church of St. Nazaire at Carcassonne, France.
Riverside Church is well known as the center for social activism. The pulpit has welcomed speakers from far and near: The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., preached his famous anti-Vietnam War sermon, “Beyond Vietnam,” from this pulpit. Nelson Mandela addressed the nation during an interfaith celebration welcoming him to America and Marian Wright-Edelman of the Children’s Defense Fund spoke about the need to provide quality healthcare to all children. On Sundays after worship, one-hour tours led by volunteers from the congregation are offered.
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