By Rich Bockmann
Apostle John Boyd Sr., who started the New Greater Bethel Ministries under a tent in Cambria Heights and grew it to a congregation of 2,000 strong, died last week at the age of 85.
Boyd died of natural causes July 11, just six days before what would have been his 86th birthday.
For 40 years Boyd served as a spiritual leader in southeast Queens and bettered his community through his works with the less fortunate.
Each week, his radio broadcast reached 150 million listeners, he worked tirelessly to help the homeless through the church’s soup kitchen and food pantry and, for his works providing spiritual guidance to the incarcerated, he was recognized by the Queensborough Correctional Facility.
Accolades were piled upon Boyd by the likes of former Gov. George Pataki, former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, former Borough President Claire Shulman, U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica) and former state Comptroller Carl McCall.
He was appointed the chaplain of the 105th Precinct and the New York Christian Times named him Man of the Year.
City Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) remembered Boyd as a staple in the community and said the pastor measured his successes one person at a time.
“Having known Rev. Boyd for many years, I can tell you that while he was very appreciative of the accolades and recognition he received from elected officials and newspapers, it did not make him nearly as happy as when he was at Greater Bethel giving a sermon, or seeing people in southeast Queens coming together to participate in his community service programs,” he said.
After studying at the Manhattan Bible Institute and earning his Doctorate of Divinity from United Christian College, Boyd founded his ministry under a small canvas tent on the corner of Linden and Francis Lewis boulevards in 1972.
Three years later, on Easter, the church acquired a building on Linden Boulevard in Cambria Heights, and in 1993 it took over a run-down night club on Jamaica Avenue in Queens Village.
Boyd is survived by his wife of more than 60 years, Mother Margie Boyd, and five children, all of whom work full-time in the ministry.
The church is planning to salute Boyd Friday at 8 p.m. in Roy Wilkins Park, and a celebratory march from the original site of the ministry, at 117-05 Francis Lewis Blvd., to The Blue Church, at 215-32 Jamaica Ave., is scheduled to begin Saturday at 10 a.m.
A viewing is scheduled for 6 p.m. at the church, and the funeral is planned for Monday at 8:30 a.m. Boyd will be laid to rest at the Pinelawn Memorial Park Garden Mausoleums in Farmingdale, L.I.
Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4574.