Welcome to St. Philip’s Church! We’re glad you’ve found us and invite you to join us for Sunday worship at 9 a.m. or 11:15 a.m. This page briefly introduces you to our shared life and work, but to fully experience the St. Philip’s Church family, we invite you to encounter God’s love through worship and community, share God’s love through mission and ministry, and become God’s love in the world in which we live! Explore links to the Episcopal Diocese of New York and the spirituality of the Episcopal church.
Whether you are looking for a new church home or just curious about what St. Philip’s has to offer, our doors are open to you. We invite you to explore the variety of our worship, fellowship, and faith formation opportunities, as well as our many remarkable programs. Whether you are new to St. Philip’s or have been attending for years, we would like to offer you the opportunity to experience our deep and rich community life. We hope you will find that getting involved in our parish community deepens your spiritual journey and provides you with a sense of belonging among God’s people. If you have questions about St. Philip’s, contact our parish administrator Gail Silver, 212-862-4940.
Clergy & Staff
Clergy & Staff
The Rev. Chloe Breyer
The Rev. Chloe Breyer has been an Associate Priest at St. Philip’s Church since 2012. In addition to her ministry to the St. Philip’s Church community, Rev. Breyer has directed the Interfaith Center of New York, a nationally-recognized non-profit organization that catalyzes collaborations among hundreds of grassroots and immigrant religious leaders and civic officials to address New York’s most pressing social problems. During Rev. Breyer’s tenure as Executive Director, ICNY has spearhead multi-faith advocacy efforts on issues including immigration reform, police profiling, and religious freedom. Prior to her arrival at St. Philip’s, Rev. Breyer was an Associate Priest at St. Mary’s, Manhattanville. From 2000-2003, she founded and directed the Cathedral Forums on Religion and Public Life at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Following September 11, 2001, she worked with the Diocese of New York on an interfaith initiative to rebuild a mosque in Afghanistan destroyed by U.S. bombs, and traveled to Afghanistan in 2003, 2004, and 2006 for two additional faith-based aid projects. Her publications include The Close: A Young Woman’s First Year at Seminary (Basic Books 2000), a chapter in What Can One Person Do? Faith to Heal a Broken World (Church Publishing 2005), The Gender Imperative: Human Security vs. State Security (Routledge 2010), and Challenging the Christian Right From the Heart of the Gospel (Beacon Press 2006). Rev. Breyer is currently working on her Ph.D. in Christian Ethics at Union Theological Seminary.
THE REV. DN. FITZROY EDWARDS
Born in the island of Antigua, West Indes and raised in the Anglican Church, the Reverend Deacon Fitzroy Edwards is a retired microbiologist and U.S. Air Force Veteran. In 1959, Deacon Edwards migrated to New York and became a member of St. Philip’s Church, Harlem. At St. Philip’s, Deacon Edwards served as an acolyte, lay reader, Eucharistic minister and as a member of the Brotherhood of St. Andrew as well as the music committee. In 1998, Fitzroy was ordained a Deacon in the Diocese of New York and has served as a Deacon at St. Philip’s Church for these past sixteen years. Deacon Edwards has been married for the past 48 years to his dear wife, Yvonne. A proud father and grandfather, Deacon Edwards has three daughters and three grandchildren.
ERIK E. CARLSON
ORGANIST / CHOIR DIRECTOR
Erik E. Carlson has been the Organist and Choirmaster at Saint Philip’s Episcopal Church in Harlem since 2009. He graduated magna cum laude from the Hartt School of Music where he completed dual degrees in both keyboard performance and music theory. As an organist and conductor he has performed at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine, Saint Marks in the Bowery, and Saint Mary the Virgin, in New York City, the Washington National Cathedral, and at Saint Michael the Archangel in Chagford, Devon, UK. Before St. Philip’s he was an adult chorister at Saint Bartholomew’s Church in New York City and at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church. Outside of church music, Mr. Carlson is an art curator at the National Arts Club in New York City and is a docent at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine where he leads tours highlighting the lives of the Saints.
CHARLES LOVELL, DIRECTOR
Born in Harlem, New York, Charles moved to Florida and later went on to serve in the U.S. Navy as an Aviation Administrator. He returned to New York in 1983, to begin organ and piano studies. St. Philip’s Church welcomed Charles as the Director of our Contemporary Choir, Voices of Praise, in August 2009. Charles performs at jazz venues througout the city. He shares his love of language and learning as an Early Childhood phonics instructor at Sugar Babies, a Harlem daycare center. Charles is currently enrolled as a full-time student at Hostos Community College studying French and Spanish and continues to study organ with William Randolph, organist at The Church of the Intercession.
Born and reared in Tallahassee, Florida, Gail received her Bachelor of Science in Marketing from Florida State University in June 1981. Later that same year, she began her professional career at Presbyterian Church, USA as a Clerical Assistant and went on to become an Administrative Assistant/Designated Services until October 1985. Gail then joined the staff of St. Philip’s Church as the Rector’s Secretary and now serves as Parish Administrator/Facilities Manager.
DOUGLAS “DJ” WILBURN, JR.
“DJ” joined our staff in October 2012, and nearly every day you will find him hard at work to ensure our church offices, sanctuary, and facilities are clean and well maintained and that we’re safe and comfortable in any weather! His dedication is most apparent each Sunday morning, as he’s on hand to aid our members needing assistance.
The vestry is made up of lay people elected by the parish to work with the rector to oversee the temporal health of their congregation. Vestry members are elected at each Annual Parish Meeting in January.
Lisa Forte-Mason, Esq.
Charles E. Williams, III
Building & Grounds Committee
Randolph V. Jacobs, Jr.
Rita Livingston, Chair
Erdene Kims, Treasurer
Class of 2018
Class of 2017
Class of 2016
What to Expect on Sunday
What to Expect on Sunday
St.Philip’s is a diverse, inclusive community committed to welcoming all, praying together, serving our brothers and sisters in need and sharing fellowship.
We have all been newcomers and understand that when you are planning to visit a church for the first time, you can have questions. We hope that you will find the following information helpful.
If there are things about our worship that seem difficult and don’t make sense, be patient with the unfamiliarity. Consider that you are entering into a conversation with God and the faithful, which began centuries before we were here and will continue after we are gone. Just join in as you are, and we will all be changed as we go. All who seek God are welcome to the Lord’s Table to receive the Bread and Wine. Even if you do not seek God, you are still welcome because God seeks you. Come and hold in your and taste on your lips the love that we cannot comprehend.
We know it can seem daunting to visit a church for the first time, not unlike visiting a foreign country where you are uncertain about the customs and traditions. We hope this brief introduction will make your first visit at St. Philip’s more comfortable.
Two Sunday Morning Services and Christian Education
Our 9 a.m. service is the smaller of our two Sunday services, and it is done without music. The 11:15 a.m. service, our main service, is a Choral Eucharist with the St. Philip’s Choir (during the academic year), or with music by small ensembles (during the summer months). The congregation joins in the hymns and canticles at the 11:15 a.m. liturgy, and you will find us to be good singers!
Church School (for children) takes place during the first half of the 11:15 a.m. Eucharist; the children then join their families in church after the sermon to participate in the remainder of the service. Ask an usher to direct you to the Church School classrooms. Parents are also welcome to bring their children to church for the entire service.
A Liturgical Church
St. Philip’s is a liturgical church, which means we follow fixed orders of service, known as liturgies, which are found in the Book of Common Prayer. The Eucharist is the primary focus of our Sunday worship. The Revised Common Lectionary provides the schedule of Bible Lessons and Psalms to be read on specified days throughout the Church Year.
The Service Bulletin, The Book of Common Prayer, The Hymnal 1982 and LEVAS
Our weekly service bulletin provides an outline of the service with page references to the Book of Common Prayer and the Hymnal 1982 and LEVAS to enable you to follow the order of service. You will find a friendly community at St. Philip’s—if you need help finding your place in the service, just ask anyone seated around you. They will be happy to help you!
The Sign of the Cross
Many people at St. Philip’s follow the ancient custom of making the sign of the cross at various points in the service, in remembrance of their Baptism.
Standing and Kneeling
At St. Philip’s we stand to sing, we stand for prayer, and to receive Holy Communion, but you are welcome to follow your own practice when it comes to standing, kneeling — or simply remaining seated.
Sharing the Peace
Following the sermon and the Prayers of the People, you are welcome to share God’s Peace by shaking hands with those around you and saying Jesus’ words, “Peace be with you.”
On most Sundays there is the opportunity to request prayers for birthdays, for anniversaries, and for travelers. There is also opportunity for a private prayer for healing (for yourself or on behalf of someone else) with a priest during the distribution of Holy Communion.
All who seek God are welcome to receive Holy Communion at God’s table, but you are also just as welcome to choose not to do so and remain in the pew during the distribution of communion. Children are equally welcome to receive Communion; the priest will ask you if you want your children to receive the Bread and/or Wine, or to simply receive a blessing when you bring them to the altar.
If you do not wish to receive Communion from the common cup, you may receive the Bread alone or you may ask the priest to dip the bread into the wine.
Following the service, please join us for coffee hour in the Undercroft after the 11:15 am service. We look forward to seeing you and encourage you to visit us soon.
Become A Member
Become A Member
We are delighted you are interested in becoming a member. To be an official member of record, all that is required is to provide your baptism and/or confirmation date.
If you have not been baptized we invite you to contact Father Patrick Williams, to learn more about our upcoming classes and how you can be involved.
If you are a member of another Episcopal parish, we can assist you with transferring your membership.
If you are coming from another Christian tradition, it is appropriate for St. Philip’s to send a courtesy letter to your former church requesting your baptism information or you can simply provide for us the date and place of your baptism.
We want you to know that wherever you are in your spiritual journey, you are welcome to participate in all the ministries and events St. Philip’s has to offer.
Thank you for worshiping with us and choosing St. Philip’s as your church home. To learn about ways to get involved, please explore our website or the Sunday bulletin for ministries and opportunities for volunteering. St. Philip’s is a church that welcomes suggestions and ideas that expand our service to God, the church and our community!
St. Philip’s Episcopal Church is an historic Episcopal church founded as the Free African Church of St. Philip in 1809 in New York’s notorious Five Points neighborhood by free Africans worshiping at Trinity Church, Wall Street, and is the oldest black Episcopal parish in New York City.
Throughout its history, St. Philip’s members and clergy have engaged in acts of justice, advocacy, and righteousness. Before they were officially a congregation, its members preached the gospel and taught reading and writing to slaves. Peter Williams, the first rector, played an active role in the abolition of slavery. Each year from 1845 until 1853 the vestry presented resolutions to the convention for the Diocese of New York requesting seat, voice, and vote for African Americans. After St. Philip’s vestry enfranchised African Americans in the Episcopal Church, they assisted other African American congregations in achieving the same rights in their dioceses. St. Philip’s further aided members and African American residents of New York by acquiring and managing burial grounds, hiring and introducing African American composers and musicians to the New York music scene, and using income from rental properties (acquired by purchase and bequest) to expand church ministries into the community.
The first church foundation stone was laid in 1819, and the first rector from 1826 to 1840 was the Rev. Peter Williams, Jr., a leading abolitionist. The “first two sites were on Centre Street. In 1822, a brick building replaced the original wood frame church damaged by fire. This same building would undergo two more reconstructions. In 1834, irate whites vandalized the church and in 1863, New York City police used the church as a barracks for militia and police handling draft riots. By 1886 the church was located on 25th Street.”
The present church building was designed by architects Vertner Woodson Tandy and George Washington Foster of the firm Tandy & Foster. Both were prominent African-American architects: Tandy being the first African-American architect licensed to practice in New York State and Foster being among the first licensed by the State of New Jersey. It was built in 1910-1911 in the Neo-Gothic style.
Notable parishioners of St. Philip’s include W. E. B. Du Bois, Thurgood Marshall, and Langston Hughes.
The church was designated a New York City Landmark in 1993, and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2008.
To learn more about the story of the church or to arrange a tour of the church, please contact the church administrator.