A pastor that left an impact on his Tremont community was honored with a street co-naming just yards from his church.
The late Rev. Abner Bernard Duncan, who founded the First Glorious Church and was its shepherd for 57 years, was recognized for his efforts with a ceremonial street sign at the corner of East 180th Street and Arthur Avenue.
Friends, family, relatives and members of the church joined Councilman Ritchie Torres in unveiling the lasting tribute.
“Rev. Duncan was a consequential public servant,” said Torres. “As a man of faith he was consequential insofar that he was the founder of the first Pentecostal church in the Bronx, He was a man who not only preached faith in the pews, but who took it out onto the street.”
Duncan was remembered during the moving ceremony as being one of the first people to work with first responders at the Happy Land arson fire in 1990 at an unlicensed night club on Southern Boulevard, as well as a participant in the 1963 March on Washington D.C. for civil rights with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and a man who counseled those who lost loved ones to gun violence and held vigils at the sites of shootings.
According to the councilman, Duncan was a community activist who participated in a successful effort to have University Avenue renamed in memory of Dr. King, and was a strong advocate for pedestrian safety, organizing residents to hold rallies calling on the NYC Department of Transportation to install stop sings on Loring Place after several pedestrians were hit by cars.
Rev. Ronald Hare, First Glorious’ current pastor, said that he was encouraged to attend the church by his wife and by Rev. Duncan.
Duncan founded First Glorious in his Washington Avenue apartment, said Hare. He said the elder pastor was a mentor to him.
Hare recalled that he was driving to the church to drop his wife off at services, when he was encouraged to come inside by Duncan.
“He had such a unique way of preaching,” said Duncan, adding that he could preach without looking at the scripture, and said he had the gift of healing.
“The church is a lasting legacy to the community,” said Duncan.
The congregation is working to be more involved in the community, and would like to add bi-lingual services as soon as possible, he said.
Duncan officiated at over 2,000 funerals and almost as many weddings, said Hare.
Duncan’s grandson Rashad Robinson, the church’s minister of music, recalled that his grandfather was a true missionary, who would visit the sick in their homes, whether nearby or far away.
“He was well-respected in the community,” said Robinson.
An attendee at the unveiling ceremony for the new street sign, Elizabeth Thompson, recalled that Duncan was a comfort to her when her son was killed by gun violence in 1993.
“He gave me a lot of hope,” she said.