Street named for Boyd in Cambria Heights

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Photo gallery

Councilman Leroy Comrie (l.) helps Mother Margie Boyd and her daughter-in-law Lady Boyd pull the cover off the street sign. Photo by Christina Santucci
Dr. Cindy Boyd-Hazel, (front l.-.r) Mother Margie Boyd and Comptroller John Liu hold a commemorative sign after the renaming. Photo by Christina Santucci
Councilman Leroy Comrie (second l.), who hosted the street renaming for Apostle Dr. John H. Boyd, is joined by (l.-r.) Councilman Ruben Wills; I. Daneek Miller, who recently won the Democratic primary for Comrie's seat; and Assemblywoman Barbara Clark. Photo by Christina Santucci
The Rev. Charles Norris speaks about Apostle Dr. John H. Boyd, who established a food pantry and soup kitchen through his ministry in southeast Queens. Photo by Christina Santucci
Assemblywoman Vivian Cook, (l.-r.) Comptroller John Liu, former City Council candidate Joan Flowers and I. Daneek Miller, who is running for Councilman Leroy Comrie's seat, join hands. Photo by Christina Santucci
U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks addresses the crowd gathered at Linden Boulevard and 219th Street Saturday to honor Apostle Dr. John H. Boyd, who started the New Greater Bethel Ministries. Photo by Christina Santucci

Apostle Dr. John H. Boyd’s legacy will live on long into the future in the Cambria Heights community where his ministry first began, his family and community leaders believe.

“Fifty years from now a young man will go past this street and ask his mother, ‘Mommy, who was Apostle John Boyd?’ That mother will tell him what a great and wonderful man he was and maybe that will make for a follow-up of Apostle Boyd,” state Assemblyman William Scarborough (D-Jamaica) told a crowd of several hundred gathered to see the corner of Linden Boulevard and 219th Street co-named for Boyd Saturday afternoon.

“For his name to live on forever in this community on a street sign, there are no words,” said Boyd’s son, Pastor John H. Boyd II. “It was always about making life better for the people in this community,”

Boyd’s New Greater Bethel Ministries started in a small brown canvas tent that the late church leader set up at the corner of Linden and Francis Lewis boulevards in 1972.

“I was 16 years old. I didn’t understand what in the world he was doing,” said his son, who has since taken over the church.

The congregation quickly grew to more than 2,000 members, and in 1975 the church acquired the Cambria Heights theater complex, which now serves as a school run by the ministry. The church also runs a food pantry, soup kitchen and 24-hour prayer phone line.

“John Boyd’s voice went around the world,” said the Rev. Charles Norris about the minister’s Voice of Bethel radio broadcast, which officials believe reached almost 150 million listeners each week.

Tributes to the late church leader were given by elected officials, including U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica), City Comptroller John Liu, state Assemblywomen Barbara Clark (D-Queens Village) and Vivian Cook (D-Jamaica), Scarborough, and City Councilmen Ruben Wills (D-Jamaica) and Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans), who hosted the weekend event.

“Apostle Boyd was about teaching and about economic development. He was teaching other people to be ministers,” Comrie said. “He was about acquiring property to make sure that the church could be self-sufficient.”

Comrie said Boyd’s ministry had owned a lot on Linden Boulevard where the Cambria Heights branch of Queens is now built, and former Councilman Archie Spigner had facilitated a deal so that the city could acquire the land.

Clark recalled trying to organize an overnight vigil in Roy Wilkins Park to raise money for cancer research.

“I see this tent, and I said, ‘Wait a minute. There is a tent in here. We didn’t ask for that,’ and I was told that’s Rev. Boyd’s tent,” she joked. “He’s in our spot, but it’s Rev. Boyd so we are going to have to move and go someplace else.”

Clark praised Boyd’s impact on Linden Boulevard, his work with prison inmates and outreach to patients at the Coler-Goldwater Specialty Hospital & Nursing Facility on Roosevelt Island.

Liu told the crowd that the ministry was left in good hands.

“The saying goes, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. That certainly has been the case with our Pastor John Boyd,” he said. “I think he is creating his own legacy as well.”

A native of Bracey, Va., Boyd studied at the Manhattan Bible Institute and received his doctor of divinity from the United Christian College. Boyd and his wife, Mother Margie Boyd, had five children together, who all work in the ministry. He died in July 2012 at the age of 85.

“I want to thank all of you for remembering a part of my brother’s dream and my brother’s life,” said Boyd’s sister Dr. Cindy Boyd-Hazel, who spoke about how her brother encouraged his six siblings. “He worked with us and let us know we could be whatever we wanted to be.”

Reach Managing Editor Christina Santucci by phone at 718-260-4589 or by email at

Updated 12:51 am, September 20, 2013
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Reader feedback

Joe Moretti from Jamaica says:
Councilman Leroy Comrie, never one to miss a photo op. In them meantime, he has been in office for 12 years and his community of Jamaica, especially his district 27, is a mess with illegal dumping, garbage all over the sidewalks and streets.

So someone try to explain to me what exactly Comrie did for twelve years that is so spectacular that warranted him three terms.

Just another example of the poor leadership in the community of Jamaica. All one needs to do is look at Jamaica and see what a mess it is and how it has been going down since the 60's.

Thanks Leroy and all you other useless, do-nothing political leaders of Jamaica for doing very little to NOTHING. You have not served the people or the community well at all.
Sept. 20, 2013, 5:19 am

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