Howard R. Moody, American Baptist Minister and Activist, 91

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Howard R. Moody, American Baptist Minister and Activist, 91

VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 9/14/12)—Rev. Howard R. Moody, 91, Minister Emeritus of Judson Memorial Church in Greenwich Village, which he pastored for 35 years, 1957-92, died September 12, 2012 according to Dr. Deborah L. Moody, M.D., his daughter.

A compelling and articulate advocate for human rights causes often ignored by the religious community, Rev. Moody wielded an outsized influence on several major social-change movements of the 1960s through the 1980s, particularly the struggles for abortion rights, free speech for artists, and more humane drug treatment policies. He not only preached prophetically on these issues, he also pioneered creative programs addressing them, first in Greenwich Village, and later, nationally.

“With his Marine-style crew cut, one’s first impression was not that one was meeting with a pastor/social activist. Yet, Howard was a moving force in the social changes that swept America from the sixties on,” said Rev. Dr. A. Roy Medley, general secretary of American Baptist Churches USA. “He was not one to shun controversy in pushing the church to respond to what he felt were the crying needs of the day. The love of Christ was his compelling guide and Howard’s gentle, engaging spirit was his trademark. He shall be missed.”
Moody was ordained at Judson in October of 1950, and began his ministry as a Baptist chaplain to students at Ohio State University before being called to the pastorate at Judson in 1957. Judson Memorial Church is affiliated with American Baptist Churches USA and the United Church of Christ. He served on several boards and committees of American Baptist Churches, his denomination, as well as the National Council of Churches. Moody also served as a member of The Ministers and Missionaries Benefit Board for 26 years, from 1964 to 1973, 1980 to 1987 and from 1989 to 1996.  He was President of that Board for 1986 and 1987.

Moody participated in the Civil Rights movement, inviting The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to speak at Judson in 1958, and traveling to the South with a number of Judson congregants in 1963-65 for voter registration efforts and demonstrations.

In progressive Protestant circles, Moody was known as a compelling preacher and interfaith leader. He preached that the basic mission of a Christian church was to be “a church for the world,” that is, to serve the needs of the world outside the church walls. Under his pastorate, Judson Church grew from the 35 members to several hundred.

Moody retired as Senior Minister of Judson Church and was named its Minister Emeritus in 1992. In retirement, Moody continued to work for progressive causes, particularly efforts to reform harsh drug laws, and taught a course in Urban Ministry at Union Theological Seminary in NYC. Moody gave the 2002 Commencement address at Union and in 2004, an Urban Ministry Scholarship Fund was established in his name.

A memorial service will be held at Judson Church in the near future. 

View the complete obituary and learn more about Moody’s involvement with major social-change movements at:

American Baptist Churches USA is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with 5,500 local congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.