A Longwood pastor’s legacy of service continues near his former parish.
Councilman Rafael Salamanca joined community and religious leaders for a street co-naming ceremony honoring the late Iglesia Cristiana Juan 3:16 pastor Rev. Ricardo Tañon on Saturday, July 28.
The northeast corner of Hewitt Place and Westchester Avenue was renamed ‘Rev. Ricardo Tañon Avenue’ in his memory.
“There were not many people who stayed while the Bronx was burning, but Rev. Tañon remained and did his best to provide not just religious services, but all types of services needed to help rebuild the community,” expressed Salamanca.
Ricardo Tañon was born in Comerio, PR in January 10, 1904 and emigrated to NYC in 1929.
He converted to Pentecostalism in 1934 and graduated from the Spanish American Bible Institute of New York in 1938.
In 1935, Tañon founded Iglesia Cristiana Juan 3:16 at 864 Westchester Avenue to build lives, pray for a more just society, preach the good of Christ and let each person know that God loves them.
From 1943 to 1976, he served as pastor of the storefront house of worship, starting with a dozen members, before grewing it into a congregation of thousands.
“He had the heart of God and gave all of his time, energy and strength into helping to rebuild both the south Bronx and its residents,” expressed Rev. Roberto Lopez, Iglesia Cristiana Juan 3:16 senior pastor.
According to Lopez, the always humble Tañon provided assistance to local residents in need of food, clothing, shelter, education and spiritual guidance.
A beacon in the darkness, Tañon helped restore hope to the ‘burning Bronx’ through his selfless actions.
“When this community was abandoned buildings, there was still a church on fire for Jesus,” said Rev. Manuel Alvarez, Eastern Hispanic District Council of the Assemblies of God superintendent.
He kept the church open 24 hours a day, seven days a week to help everyone in their time of need.
Upon his retirement on June 28, 1977, the Eastern Hispanic District Council of the Assemblies of God-affiliated Iglesia Cristiana Juan 3:16 was the largest Hispanic church in the United States with approximately 2,000 parishioners.
Tañon was instrumental in establishing many Iglesia Cristiana Juan 3:16 churches throughout NYC; the southeast, north central, south central and western U.S.; Puerto Rico; Cuba; the Dominican Republic and Central and South America.
Tañon passed away on February, 19, 1998 at 94-years-old in Tampa, FL.
Lopez said that Iglesia Cristiana Juan 3:16 continues Tañon’s legacy of service to others through the parish’s youth, men’s, women’s, follow-up and missionary ministries; vacation bible school; youth nights; the Royal Rangers; Children’s Church; Children’s Sunday School; community marching band and public sermons held on the community’s streets.
“The worst thing that happened at the time was that the residents’ spirits and souls were broken, but it was the faith of the churches and the work of pastor Tañon that repaired it and that is why the Bronx is still here today,” stated Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr.