The Jesus walk

WWJW? Kick it on the Upper West Side, where you can break bread, view biblical art and even walk on water.

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  • Methodist Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew

  • Harry's Shoes

  • Maxilla and Mandible

  • Maxilla and Mandible

  • First Baptist Church in the City of New York

  • Levain Bakery

  • Levain Bakery

  • Bin 71

  • Bethesda Fountain

  • Sheep Meadow

  • Sheep Meadow

  • Holy Trinity Lutheran Church

  • Museum of Biblical Art

  • Museum of Biblical Art

  • American Bible Society

  • American Bible Society

Methodist Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew

Photos: Carolyn Voagen Nelson

Start: 263 W 86th St at West End Ave
End: 1865 Broadway at 61st St
Time: 3 hours
Distance: 3.5 miles

1 Begin your pilgrimage at the liberal, all-inclusive Methodist Church of St. Paul & St. Andrew (263 W 86th St at West End Ave; 212-362-3179, stpaulandstandrew.org), where many Sunday services include liturgical dance, dramatic scripture reading or the use of puppets (for the kids, people). Built in 1897, the church is distinguished by the pair of uneven towers that top it, and it’s renowned for its arts programs: Both the predominantly gay Big Apple Corps Symphonic Band and Empire City Men’s Chorus are in residence here; catch them rehearsing on Mondays and Tuesdays respectively, from 6:30 to 10pm. Or breathe easy at the church’s free weekly Pilates (Tue 6:30--7:30pm) and yoga (Wed 7:30--9pm) classes.

2 Comfort is key when you’re walking in J-Dog’s kicks, so head to Harry’s Shoes (2299 Broadway at 83rd St; 212-874-2035, harrys-shoes.com) and strap on a pair of gladiator sandals—they’re just as trendy now as they were in Jesus’ day. The long-standing shoe superstore stocks quite a few variations, too; we like Born’s Macadamia in metallic gold ($90) or Corso Como’s Felicia, a studded-leather T-strap in black or tan ($110).

3 Didn’t you learn anything in Sunday school? Honor thy moms and pops by getting them quirky gifts from Maxilla & Mandible (451 Columbus Ave between 81st and 82nd Sts; 212-724-6173, maxillaandmandible.com). The small shop is packed with ancient fossils, skulls and preserved specimens, most of which are prehistoric and would qualify as antiques from Jesus’ vantage point. Mom will appreciate amber drop earrings ($34) or a caviar dish set with two spoons ($42), made from a sea creature indigenous to Thailand; for Dad, grab a sharktooth ring made with stingray skin ($325) or authentic dinosaur teeth (from $14). And don’t forget to pay—you’ll cover two Commandments in one fell swoop.

4 Stroll back to Broadway and check out The First Baptist Church in the City of New York (265 W 79th St at Broadway; 212-724-5600, firstbaptist-nyc.org). On the first Thursday of every month from 6 to 9pm, you can drop by for free coffee, snacks and live music that’s “more Belle and Sebastian than Metallica,” according to pastor Matthew Carpenter. Though the church’s congregation started gathering on Gold Street in 1745, the current uptown edifice wasn’t built until 1891. George M. Keister, who also designed the Apollo in Harlem, took care to imbue the chapel with architectural significance everywhere you look: The five upper circles on the stained-glass rose window above the main entrance represent the writers of the New Testament Epistles, while the bottom four depict the Gospel authors Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

5 Amazing as they are, skip the half-pound cookies that Levain Bakery (167 W 74th St between Amsterdam and Columbus Aves; 212-874-6080, levainbakery.com) is known for; you’re here to break bread. The intoxicating smell of artisanal handmade loaves baking in the oven will make you an easy convert. Choose from olive-herb ($6.50) or seeded semolina ($6.50), sourdough boule ($5.25), ciabatta ($4.50) and whole-wheat raisin ($6.75), and don’t forget to share—it’s not like this is your last supper.

6 Though none of us can pull off Jesus’ greatest party trick—turning water into wine—you can make a glass of wine appear by, uh, ordering one at Bin 71 (237 Columbus Ave at 71st St; 212-362-5446, bin71.com). Yeah, definitely not as cool, but what is impressive is the rotating global vino selection at this snug nook that changes seasonally. Right now, sip $9 reds like Evodia garnacha from Spain or a Sicilian nero d’avola by Vigneti Zabu.

7 Emboldened with liquid courage, meander over to Central Park’s Bethesda Fountain and attempt to walk on water. At least you’ll get a baptismal bath in the process, much like the newly recruited disciples did as they splashed around the pool in the 1973 movie Godspell. The biblical allusions don’t stop there: The bronze, eight-foot-tall statue references a chapter in the Gospel of John, in which an angel blesses Jerusalem’s Pool of Bethesda, thereby bestowing it with healing powers.

8 Make your way down the park to Sheep Meadow to find your flock of followers (although for the love of all that is holy, can’t these people put some clothes on?). Before this 15-acre field was filled with half-naked sunbathers, actual sheep inhabited it; until 1934, they were housed with their shepherd in a Victorian building where Tavern on the Green is today.

9 Exit the park on 67th Street and mosey over to Holy Trinity Lutheran Church (Central Park West at 65th St; 212-877-6815, holytrinitynyc.org) for some quietude amid Gothic Revival--style architectural splendor. “It’s remarkably elaborate for a Lutheran church,” says cantor and organist Rick Erickson. Note the colorful mosaics behind the marble altar table created by stone carver Jean Claude Marchiano, the evangelist woodcarvings, and the Tiffany glass window painted by German and English artisans. Also notable is the gallery pipe organ housed within its original casework from 1904 (the year the church was completed)—although these days it’s much quieter than usual, as the church’s music programs take a hiatus until late July.

10 Conclude your jaunt at The Museum of Biblical Art (1865 Broadway at 61st St; 212-408-1500, mobia.org), currently showing “Reel Religion,” an exhibit examining the good book’s influence on Hollywood (through May 17). Head upstairs to view nearly 80 vintage posters for biblical films from the ’20s through the ’50s (check out the lithograph of Salome, the 1923 silver-screen adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s play), along with other memorabilia, like Charlton Heston’s mauve cape from Ben-Hur. MoBIA shares a building with the American Bible Society (212-408-1200, americanbible.org), so be sure to check out the rare collection of 45,000 printed volumes translated into more than 2,500 languages and dialects—the largest of its kind outside the Vatican. Though you won’t be picking up a copy of Helen Keller’s Bible anytime soon (yep, they have that, too), you can purchase a bilingual Spanish version ($5.99) at the shop downstairs. Give your feet a much-deserved rest by sitting on the park bench next to a life-size statue of lay missionary Jeremiah Lanphier outside. Amen to that!


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