BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — A Bed-Stuy block was co-named this weekend in honor of a late pastor who gave back to the neighborhood through his church’s community outreach programs.
Greene Avenue, between Patchen Avenue and Broadway, was co-named “Rev. Dr. Jerry V. Burns Way” on Saturday after the founder of The New Open Door Church of God in Christ.
Burns, who started the church at 999 Greene Avenue in the late 1970s, was well known in the community for his food pantry and soup kitchen, as well as his myriad efforts to lift up those in need, according to his daughter.
He passed away in 2012 at the age of 70.
“He was a great man, he loved people and just wanted to help anyone and everybody,” said Tynese Burns-Taylor, 47.
“He was always there to provide. A singer, a father, a preacher, just an all-around nice person.”
Burns launched his outreach ministry with a local fish fry, which evolved into the distribution of canned goods, groceries and hot meals each week, his daughter added.
“He was known as ‘The Chicken Man,’ every Saturday giving out whole chickens we would buy by the case to make sure everyone had a full-course meal,” she said.
Elected officials, church members and community leaders gathered at The New Open Door Church of God in Christ on Saturday to remember Burns and unveil the new street sign.
In addition to food services, the pastor helped distribute clothes, opened the church to weekend tutoring for childcare and gave out free Nike sneakers to youth during annual events, according to relatives.
The church has also established a scholarship for students in Burns’ honor, his daughter said.
“This is history. He was such an inspiration to so many lives, the thousands of people he provided for for over 36 years,” Burns-Taylor said.
“Now those that move into the area and children growing up here, they’ll see that sign and ask, ‘Who’s that man?’ We’re continuing his legacy.”