Located on 106th and Park Ave, which also crosses over into Angelo Del Toro Place, you can find Church of the Good Neighbor in Spanish Harlem. Written in Spanish the banner welcomes newcomers to this Evangelist-Presbyterian church – the first merged church I have come across. While the sign for the church is large, it’s fairly easy to miss amidst the other community organizations that surround it. In the basement of Church of the Good Neighbor is the Manhattan Free School. The Manhattan Free School is an independent school for kids ages 5-18 (Kindergarten through high school, despite it’s small occupation) which is privately funded in part by Church of the Good Neighbor. The school is, as it’s website advertises, ”
In any educational setting, young people have the right:
- to decide individually how, when, what, where, and with whom they learn,
- to have an equal share in the decision-making as to how their organizations—in particular their schools—are run, and which rules and sanctions, if any, are necessary. We believe people are born curious and because of this we can trust in their desire to learn and their enormous capacity to make sense of the world on their own terms.”
These guidelines were established based off of the 2005 Democratic Education Conference – the school is fairly new and so has not had a high enrollment rate… yet. It’s philosophy encourages interaction with the natural world, and part of the “natural world” is spiritual. The Church of the Good Neighbor provides that spiritual education through their joint after-school programs with the school.
On the left of the church is a local Fire Department, and a medical center across the street. Whats more is next to the medical center is another Church, who has decorated common street signs (stop signs, orange cones, and bumpers) with the spray painted phrase, “Funeral this way”. When I asked a man at the corner Pizzeria, he said that the church across the street deals with Funeral requests from both congregations, since across the street is bigger and can accommodate more people, and also has a ramp (which Good Neighbor can’t have due to their garage being used by the Fire Dept.)