At 11 a.m. Saturday, about a hundred people began slowly walking up Old Quogue Road in Riverside, from the Galilee Church of God in Christ to the street sign at the Flanders Road intersection.
That’s where a second sign was unveiled, giving the street the honorary designation of “Pastor Roy L. Pennon, Sr. Way.”
The Southampton Town Board recently approved the new sign at the suggestion of members of the church. It is an honorary designation, meaning that it will still be Old Quogue Road as well, so people won’t have to change their addresses.
Rev. Pennon founded the church in 1975 and was its pastor until his death on Dec. 24, 2016.
His daughter Crystal recalled the early days of the church as she walked up Old Quogue Road, telling how her father, who lived in Center Moriches, first showed them the church he bought in Riverside.
“It was a little dilapidated storefront, and when my father said we were leaving Burns Temple [in Center Moriches] and coming to Riverhead, we were terrified, because when we drove up to this little church, it looked like a ghost town,” she recalled.
“Part of the ceiling was falling in, there was an old pot belly stove in the corner, and an old standup piano that had mold on it, but my father said, ‘This is where we’re supposed to be.’ ”
Her father would work on the church at night.
They would even greatly expand the size of the church, despite not being able to get a mortgage, according to Lillian Pennon, Rev. Pennon’s wife of 53 years, who is still the church administrator.
“It’s quite an emotional day,” she said Saturday. “I don’t think the pastor really knew or understood how much he was loved or how much influence he had on people … He was a lover of people, it didn’t matter who you were … he was able to see in people what they didn’t see in themselves.”
Crystal Pennon said her father would not charge for funerals, regardless of whether the person went to their church of not.
There were two memorial services for her father, she recalled, one at the church in Riverside and one in Freeport, which had more than 3,000 people in attendance and over 11,000 more watching via Facebook Live.
“The Town of Southampton and its residents have benefitted from Dr. Pennon’s vision, caring and dedication to his flock, and to the community,” Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said Saturday, reading the town resolution approving the street sign. “His life serves as a reminder for all to live with integrity, walk in love and live by example, just as he did. His character, leadership and powerful preaching extended his influence beyond the church he loved so dearly.”