Relatives and residents served by a beloved pastor received an incredible gift on his birthday.
On Sunday, January 7, Councilman Rafael Salamanca, Rev. Frederick Crawford, First Lady Antionette Crawford, Mother Arnetta Crawford and Union Grove Missionary Baptist Church’s faithful dedicated a section of Hoe Avenue as ‘Rev. Dr. Fletcher C. Crawford Way.’
The heartwarming ceremony held in front of UGMBC honored the late Rev. Dr. Fletcher Crawford who passed away on Tuesday, August 8, 2017 at 92-years-old.
In a fitting tribute, the celebration occurred on what would have been his 93rd birthday.
Fletcher was one of 14 children born to the late Rev. Jeremiah and Dovetta Crawford in Waverly, AL who answered the call to serve God under his father’s leadership.
His father Jeremiah founded UGMBC on October 23, 1946 at 221 E. 98th Street in Harlem where he presided as pastor.
Fletcher served in the Army during World War II and received his Ministerial License on May 16, 1947.
He started his ministry as a Sunday school teacher and was later ordained a deacon.
Fletcher received his religious education from the Baptist Education Center for Religious Education and Southern Baptist College and his Bachelor of Theology Degree at Notasulga, AL Bible College, now called Alabama Bible University.
As parish membership expanded in 1948, UGMBC relocated to a storefront building at 876 Home Street for 13 years.
After his father’s death in 1956, Fletcher took over and led a congregation of over 500 members for five decades.
In 1961, the church briefly resided at 3329 Third Avenue until moving to its current location at 1488 Hoe Avenue a year later.
During his visit to the Holy Land in February 1979, Fletcher became inspired by God to construct a new church.
Upon his homecoming, Fletcher met with his staff and parishioners to discuss his plan which earned their support.
During reconstruction, Fletcher and his flock celebrated Sunday service at the Bronx Boy’s Club and Assembly of God Church.
UGMBC’s new building was officially dedicated on April 28, 1984.
“He saw the need for a pillar, a pillar built with the help of the Lord and His son, Jesus Christ and that’s why it’s not surprising that this pillar, right here on a rocky lot in the middle of Hoe Avenue is still standing here today,” expressed Salamanca.
Fletcher and his wife Mother Arnetta married in 1962 and raised four children that gave them eight grandchildren.
His impressive resume included time as a member of the Baptist Ministers Conference of Greater New York Vicinity; serving twice as president of the Baptist Ministers Evening Conference; a member of the United Missionary Baptist Association, the Empire Missionary Baptist Convention and the National Baptist Convention.
Fletcher was also instrumental in establishing the Back to School Youth Block Party, the Senior Citizens Holiday Fellowship Dinner, the Summer Community Health Fair and Divine Union Summer Day Camp.
“I’m only standing here today because of Dr. Fletcher Crawford. He was up on top of the mountain to see what I couldn’t see. He planted a seed within me and all that’s taken place is a result of Dr. Crawford’s firmness not to move. The Bronx has changed because of men like Dr. Crawford who stood their ground,” shared Rev. Frederick Crawford, UGMBC senior pastor and Fletcher’s eldest son.