Historic, but not famous

Reverend Howard Moody, Advocate for many

The Rev. Howard R. Moody (1921 – 2012)  the longtime minister of the historic Judson Memorial Church, hurled himself and his Greenwich Village congregation into roiling social issues. He began preaching at the age of 5 on a milk crate in TX and continued his ministry until his retirement from Judson Church in Greenwich Village in 1992.

He moved to NYC in 1957 as a senior pastor at Judson Church. He assisted all types of people with their needs. He helped women get safe abortions before they were legal. He worked with prostitutes, giving them advice, council and cookies. He established one of the first drug treatment centers in the Village. When AIDS hit NYC, he was the first minister to offer assistance and comfort. He set up an AIDS support group and led one memorial service after another for its victims. He fought censorship and became a leader of a local Independent political club.

He made his church the home of one of New York’s first Off Off Broadway theaters and an innovative dance company. A gallery he established there showed artists like Claes Oldenberg and Robert Rauschenberg before they were well known. Beatniks, and later hippies, were welcomed. In the 1960s he let Yoko Ono and others stage “happenings.” One event, called “Meat Joy,” featured bikini-clad performers and a dead fish.

Rev. Moody was an essential part of the Greenwich Village culture until his death of complications from cancer in 2012. His work lives on at Judson Church.

Please follow and like us:
error
Historic, but not famous

Simon Congo (approx 1600/1608 – 1667/1668) was one of the first African men to be brought to New Amsterdam. He was born in the Congo and brought over with Paul d’ Angola, Anthony Portuguese, John Francisco, and seven other males in 1626. Their names indicate that they may have been slaves on Portuguese or Spanish ships captured at sea.

Mr. Congo, along with the other men, served the Dutch West India Company in New Amsterdam for around 22 years. The Company released these slaves on a “half‑freedom” plan which gave the Company the produce and periodic labor that it required without the responsibility of superintending and maintaining the slaves.  Simon chose to become a farmer for himself and was given land in the area we know as Greenwich Village.

His “freedom” was granted “on condition that they . . . shall be bound to pay for the freedom they receive . . . annually . . . to the [Dutch] West India Company . . . thirty skepels of Maize or Wheat, Pease or Beans, and one Fat hog, valued at twenty guilders.” If the tribute were not paid, their freedom was forfeited. They were also obligated to work for the Company for wages whenever their services were required.

Unfortunately, any children the men had would be required to serve the company as slaves for 35 years before “freed”. This became a very controversial caveat in the community. Many families bought the freedom of their children when possible.

Please follow and like us:
error
Historic, but not famous

Bob Spike, Civil Rights Activist

Robert Warren Spike (1923 – 1966) was a clergyman, theologian, and civil rights leader. Born in Buffalo, NY, he came to NYC while studying for the ministry. He began his career as pastor at the Judson Memorial Church on Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village in 1949, reviving the social activism of this famous urban church. During his time at the church, neighborhood kids played basketball in the church’s ramshackle gym and an interracial, international residence for students was established. Spike also helped to create an art gallery where artists could exhibit their unconventional works.

In 1958 Spike left his parish ministry to take on a national role as General Secretary of the United Church Board For Homeland Ministries. In 1963 he was appointed the Executive Director of the National Council of Churches’ Commission on Religion and Race, which became an important arm of the Civil Rights Movement. He worked with Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.  and others in the movement.

In January 1966 Spike took a position as Professor of Ministry and Director of the Doctor of Ministry Program in the Divinity School at the University of Chicago. Less than a year after assuming his post in Chicago, Spike was bludgeoned to death at Ohio State University in Columbus on October 17, 1966. No one was ever tried for his murder; after a systematic review some church sources believe that he was assassinated.

Please follow and like us:
error
Historic, but not famous

Edward Judson, Baptist Minister in Greenwich Village

Edward Judson (1844-1914) was a Baptist clergyman. He started his work in the Baptist church in Orange NJ, but ended at the Berean Church, later as the Memorial Baptist, and finally as the Judson Memorial. The church is located on the South Side of Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village.

Minister Judson was very successful in recruiting people to the Berean Church after the Civil War that a larger space became necessary. In 1888, with the backing of John D. Rockefeller and other prominent Baptists, construction of the church on the south side of the park was begun. The church building was designed by architect Stanford White, with stained-glass windows by John La Farge. Judson dedicated the building to his father, a missionary in Burma for the protestant church. As well as worship and religious education, the church offered health-care and outreach ministries to non-members as well as members.

After Judson’s death, the church offered first its basement and then rented its parish house on Thompson Street to Dr. Eleanor A. Campbell, a pioneering female physician who ran the Judson Health Center, a free medical and dental clinic in 1921. The church has been an integral part of the Greenwich Village neighborhood, inspired by the mission of Mr. Judson. It has run mission homes for the homeless, worked with Veterans, artists, drug addicts, homosexuals, AIDs victims, at risk youth and immigrants. It continues the ideas of being part of a community.

Please follow and like us:
error