Rev. Robert Moon Obituary

By Robert D. Dávila/Sacramento Bee

An influential voice for social justice, the Rev. Robert Warr Moon marched with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. The former pastor of St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in Sacramento died June 2 after a brief illness, his family said. He was 95.c

The Rev. Moon preached the Gospel and spoke out for peace and social equality as a minister for more than 65 years. He worked in the Bay Area and Fresno before leading St. Mark’s United Methodist Church from 1966 to 1974. He retired from active ministry in 1981 but continued serving part time at churches.

He put his faith into action as a champion for controversial causes. Amid the anti-communism fervor of the 1950s, he led a successful legal fight against a California law requiring churches to sign loyalty oaths. He joined clergy who marched for civil rights in 1965 with King in Selma, Ala., and he walked arm-in-arm with King at a march for fair housing in Fresno.

He protested the Vietnam War in the 1970s and spoke out against the nuclear arms race in the 1980s. He challenged his fellow Methodists as an early advocate for ordination of gays and lesbians.

Although his liberal views prompted dissent among conservative believers, the Rev. Moon “never backed down,” said the Rev. Faith Whitmore, senior pastor of St. Mark’s United Methodist Church.

“The way Bob understood the Gospel of Jesus was all framed in terms of what is just and fair,” Whitmore said. “Even when it was very unpopular, he was a prophet.”

The Rev. Moon was born in 1916 in Bakersfield to Ruby and Leonard Moon. His beliefs took shape during the Great Depression, when his family relied on his mother’s job as a nurse after his father’s carpentry work dried up.

“My dad figured out that women made a significant economic contribution to society, and when he saw they were marginalized or paid less than men, that didn’t sit right with him,” said his daughter, Sandra Farley. “He was always one for fairness.”

The Rev. Moon earned an economics degree at UC Berkeley and worked for General Electric Corp. before becoming a minister. He earned a divinity degree at Boston University School of Theology.

He began working at Park Presidio Methodist Church in San Francisco in 1945. He was assigned to First United Methodist Church in San Leandro in 1953 and First United Methodist Church in Fresno in 1960. After serving as a pastor in Sacramento, he retired from active ministry at Central United Methodist Church in Stockton and settled in Sacramento.
He held leadership roles in national religious and social justice groups, including the United Methodist Church, the National Council of Churches and the American Civil Liberties Union.   The Rev. Moon was married for 72 years to the former Doris Tallmadge. He was predeceased by son Lawrence.

He enjoyed woodworking projects and relaxing with his wife at their Camp Sierra cabin. They later sold the property to endow the Moon Lecture Series at St. Mark’s church, which draws prominent liberal authors and activists to speak on ethical issues.

“He was so proud of the lecture series,” Whitmore said. “His legacy will live on through that.”

Read more: