A beloved spiritual leader was immortalized when his community held a fundraiser at KeySpan Park for a new after-school program to be established in his memory at the Coney Island Gospel Assembly.
Pastor Jack A. San Filippo, known to his adoring flock as “Brother Jack,” led the congregation with his now-deceased wife Sister Ronnie from its humble storefront beginnings on West 31st Street and Neptune Avenue, to its current location at West 29th Street, where he continued to serve his burgeoning flock until his death in the mid-1980s.
Brother Jack was recalled as a devoted man of the cloth and praiseworthy community leader by a succession of church members and area dignitaries during the fundraiser and introduction at the ball park, 1904 Surf Avenue, for the new Achieve, Inspire, Mentor (AIM) after-school program for boys and young men, six through 21 years old.
Several “Jack A. San Filippo Community Service” awards were also presented to supporters and local advocates for their grassroots youth work.
“He used to walk around Coney Island and gather all the kids, and walk us down to the church, teach us about the Bible, and give us cookies and Kool-Aid,” fondly remembers one of the event coordinators, Kismir L. Burke, adding that when parents “began investigating” the church forays, they were pleasantly surprised and “wanted to know this man, who they felt so comfortable with.”
The AIM program will provide computer, mentoring and homework help, and other social services, said Burke.