Prominent Bayonne clergyman passes from COVID-19

Rev. H. Gene Sykes was the pastor at Friendship Baptist Church

Rev. H. Gene Sykes has passed away due to COVID-19. Photo by Alyssa Bredin Quiros
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Rev. H. Gene Sykes has passed away due to COVID-19. Photo by Alyssa Bredin Quiros

The death toll in Bayonne continues to rise as the COVID-19 pandemic intensifies in Hudson County. Another prominent member of the Bayonne community has passed away due to the virus.

Rev. H. Gene Sykes, the pastor of Friendship Missionary Baptist Church, was one of Bayonne’s most prominent clergyman, according to Mayor Jimmy Davis. Friendship Baptist Church is located at 41-45 West 20th Street in Bayonne.

Rev. Sykes, 78, is the eleventh Bayonne resident who has died from COVID-19.

Mayor Davis announced the passing of TRev. Sykes and offered condolences to his family on April 7. Previously, Health Department employee Maureen Ciolek also passed away from COVID-19 in the city.

“He has sadly passed away due to complications related to the Coronavirus,” Mayor Davis said. “He was well-known in the community for his spiritual and civic accomplishments.”

Rev. Sykes had moved hell and high water in the past for his faith community, literally moving the congregation itself.

“Rev. Sykes will be remembered for moving his congregation to a new location where he renovated and expanded a former synagogue,” Mayor said.

Friendship Baptist church established a soup kitchen and other services that reach out to the entire community.

In addition to being renowned faith leader in the Bayonne community, Sykes was also a volunteer city employee.

According to Mayor Davis, Rev. Sykes gave many years of service as a volunteer commissioner on the Bayonne Housing Authority. He was also an active member of the Bayonne Interfaith Clergy and other community organizations.

“During my time as mayor, I have been fortunate to have the friendship of Rev. Sykes as I valued and respected his counsel,” Mayor Davis recalled. “On behalf of the City of Bayonne, I would like to offer our condolences to his family, friends, and congregation.”

Some residents and members of the congregation offered their own condolences in response to the mayor’s announcement.

“Our beloved Pastor will be missed by many he was a wonderful, kind, and loving man of God,” Valerie Borroum said.

“Sincerest condolences to Rev. Sykes’ family, friends, congregation, and all who knew and worked with him,” Maria Karczewski said. “Rev. Sykes’ passing is a true loss to the Bayonne Community.”

Currently, there are 309 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Bayonne and 11 residents have died from the virus. However, approximately 24 residents have been cleared per CDC guidelines, according to the Bayonne Office of Emergency Management.

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at disrael@hudsonreporter.com.