HARLEM, Manhattan (PIX11) — Pallbearers slowly marched the Rev. Dr. Calvin O. Butts III’s casket down West 138th Street in Harlem Friday night.

It was a final testament to his more than three decades of service as senior pastor of Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem. A packed congregation stayed for Butts’ entire funeral, which stretched to almost five hours.

Butts passed away last Friday at 73, following a long battle with pancreatic cancer.

“It’s a big loss to the church, to the members, to Harlem, and to the world. What kind of man when he dies, the New York Times interrupts its usual edition to send out flash notices,” said church member Judy Rogers.

Gregory Jackson, Pastor Emeritus of Mt. Olive Baptist Church in Hackensack, New Jersey, said it was Butts who alerted him to the pastoral opening at Mt. Olive nearly 40 years ago.

“He had the ability to relate the social conditions to what was going on in the world, what was going on in the city to the gospel to make it relevant so that people could understand it. That’s my kind of preacher,” said Jackson.

Butts also spent his career – both from the pulpit and on the streets – advocating for civil rights, racial equality, and a level playing field of economic opportunity for Black and brown New Yorkers.

Butts spearheaded the church’s development corporation early in his tenure.

“It has given my family generational wealth. I have a brownstone in Harlem due to this man,” said Harlem resident Marie Nazon.

U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer was one of many prominent elected officials who came to pay their respects.

“And with his truth, and his eloquence, and his brilliance, and his faith, he made Harlem, New York, and America a better place,” said Schumer.