MABLETON — The senior pastor of Words of Faith A.M.E. Church was surprised Sunday when the city of Marietta declared the Rev. Walter D. Moon Day.
City Councilman Anthony Coleman said the honor kicked off the city’s salute to African-American heritage.
“As we celebrate Black History Month, the city of Marietta believes it is fitting that we recognize all of Rev. Moon’s accomplishments and contributions to our community,” Coleman read from a proclamation. “We…encourage all citizens to join in honoring the legacy of this great American.”
Last week Coleman said he nominated Moon, whom he considers as his mentor, for the distinction.
“I said, ‘who in our community has made contributions for many years? Who’s older and wiser?’” he said. “Rev. Moon really set the bar high.”
Moon is a dedicated servant of God, Coleman said, and a public servant, too.
“He has a passion to serve his community and to serve people,” Coleman said. “He’s a consensus builder. He’s a peacemaker. And he played football on the Lemon Street High School team with my dad, Robert Coleman. They were the Lemon Street Hornets.”
Moon was valedictorian of the class of 1958 and later served on the Marietta City school board.
That’s how Louis Walker of Marietta met him 40 years ago.
Walker, a former Marietta High School shop teacher, said Moon was his role model.
“He was involved in many things in the community. At that time, I was somewhat involved but not as much,” Walker said. “He was a good family man, and I liked that.”
Walker taught at Lemon Street in 1965, the year Lemon Street Heritage Group chair George Miller graduated.
Miller said he and Moon were close.
“We grew up together. He had a brother that was my age. I was in and out of his house,” Miller said. “Walter was Isaac’s big brother and my big brother, too.”
Moon studied business management at Savannah State College, where he was Freshman of the Year, Kennesaw College, Liberty University, Emory University and the University of Illinois.
By the time Miller got his diploma, Moon had served his country in the U.S. Navy and started a 34-year career with the U.S. Postal Service.
“I remember when he started in the postal service, he started as a letter carrier. He went up to supervisor, area manager, then postmaster and then district manager,” Miller said.
Civil rights leader
Moon has served on nonprofit boards and continues to serve on civic boards and committees, but his fight against discrimination remains legendary, Miller said.
“He was strong in the civil rights era. We looked up to him for that,” he said. “He was a good spokesman. He was always well prepared. He’d speak at marches. He’d speak at rallies. He is a very charismatic person. He is a good leader.”
Moon entered the ministry in 1983 and was ordained elder in 1987.
“Even before he went into the ministry, he was one of the best Bible teachers in the area. When he announced he was going into the ministry, nobody was surprised,” Miller said. “He’s my pastor now. I’m a member of his church.”
Both grew up going to Turner Chapel A.M.E. in Marietta, then Moon started Words of Faith in 2002.
“We started with about 12 people doing Bible study at his house,” Miller said.
In 10 years, the congregation has grown along with its financial security.
“Right now we’re at about 300 members,” Miller said. “Not only that, we’ll have the church paid off in four to five years.”
Sphere of influence
Miller said Moon had a profound influence on him.
“He’s the kind of person you look at and say, ‘Wow. This is who I want to model my life after,’” he said.
Moon, an award-winning humanitarian, was always a good counselor, Miller said.
“He was the type of person I could go to and he’d always have a lot of wisdom,” Miller said. “I would tell him my problems in the third person — ‘I know someone with this problem’ — but I think he always knew it was me.”
Moon and his wife, Winford, have been married for 50 years.
They have two daughters, Sonja and Sonita, two sons-in-law, Wade and Larry, and three grandchildren, Micah, Carrington and Lisa.
His hobbies include reading, fishing, traveling and woodworking.