Volume 78 - Number 47 / April 29 - May 5 , 2009
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Villager photos by Jefferson Siegel

At left, Doris Diether of Community Board 2 greeted Reverend Howard Moody at Judson Church on April 16. At right, Judson’s current senior minister, Donna Schaper, and Moody shared a hug.

Moody celebrates 88th birthday, book launch in one joyous swoop

By Albert Amateau 

“I’m the one with the little feet,” said Donna Schaper, senior minister of Judson Memorial Church. “I just can’t fill Howard Moody’s shoes,” she told the 250 guests at Moody’s 88th birthday celebration at the church on Thurs., April 23.

Moody, Judson’s senior minister during the frequently turbulent years from 1956 to 1992, was as ever upbeat and vigorous despite his use of a wheelchair since having broken a leg recently in a fall at home in the Village.

The event also included the launching of Moody’s book, “A Voice in the Village: a Journey of a Pastor and a People.”

“The book is not really about Howard; it’s about us,” said Schaper. She marveled at the idea of a pastor, a fighter for women’s — including poor women’s — right to get an abortion, who opened the door of the church to people on the edge, being a former Marine, a man with a crew cut and from Texas, no less. “We all live in those pages,” Schaper said about the book.

On hand were longtime Judson associates and allies in the struggle for social justice from the American Civil Liberties Union. 

The celebration included performances of the songs of the late Al Carmines, Moody’s associate minister and composer of prize-winning musicals that put Judson in the forefront of new theater.

Moody spoke about his years at Judson. 

“They were rich and full of portent, made possible by people growing together,” he said. “It never could have happened without the company of love and support that criticized and corrected me and kept us going forward where the church belongs — out into the world.”

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