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.