Two streets renamed for the ‘Bishop of the Bronx’

The Rev. Dr. Simpson’s family held the ceremonial street sign while they were joined by elected officials, clergy and community leaders.
Photo by Silvio Pacifico

Not one, but two streets are now named for the ‘Bishop of the Bronx.’

The corner of East 187th Street and Tiebout Avenue and the corner of Strang and Murdock avenues, where he founded churches, are now both Reverend Dr. Samuel G. Simpson Way, in honor of the man who devoted his life to the Christian faith and community service.

“It was so nice we did it twice,” Councilman Andy King said before the ceremony outside of the Wake-Eden Community Baptist church. “We have beacons in our communities and a street renaming allows us to let those shine for younger generations to see how impactful Dr. Simpson was,” he added.

King knew Simpson personally for some years as well.

“I knew him for a good seven to ten years, being in the same room with him and hearing his words were an honor and now it feels good to do good for him,” King said.

Simpson was born in Jamaica and later relocated to the United States in the early 1960s. He was ordained at the Evergreen Baptist Church in Brooklyn in 1963 and pastored Bronx Baptist Church for 45 years and Wake-Eden Community Baptist Church 39 years.

“Dr. Simpson was a Bronx institution who dedicated more than five decades of service to this community, and made an impact on the lives of countless residents through his Bible classes and push for affordable housing. His legacy will forever be memorialized through this street renaming,” said Councilman Ritchie Torres.

Congressman Eliot Engel also shared fond memories of Simpson and himself while Senator Jamaal T. Bailey also spoke in addition to Speaker Carl Heastie as well as family, friends and religious clergy.

More than a reverend, Simpson received a Master of Professional Studies from New York Theological Seminary, was a Merrill Fellow at Harvard Divinity School, and a Senior Common Fellow at Regents Park College of Oxford University.

He was also given honorary doctorates from Asia Bible College and Martha’s Vineyard Theological Seminary.

Simpson was coined the ‘Bishop of the Bronx’ for helping to pave the way for African-Americans to serve in Southern Baptist life.

He was a founding member and two-term president of the Clergy Coalition of the 47th Precinct of New York and was chairman of the board for the Council of Churches of the City of New York. He was instrumental in founding several New York churches, including Protestant Community Church in the north Bronx, Honeywell Baptist Chapel and New Hope Mission in Spring Valley, and Grace Baptist Chapel in the Bronx.

His daughter, Kim Simpson-Turnbull spoke during the ceremony.

She reminisced about the time her father learned of a major gang brawl. He sat each person down in his church and forced them to peacefully resolve things.

“He watched everything in the community,” Simpson-Turnbull. “He knew with everybody’s struggles in the community that the children would triumph one day, he knew that when the Bronx was burning that he could revive it.”

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