The Right Reverend Paul Moore, Jr. (November 15, 1919 - May 1, 2003) was a bishop of the Episcopal Church and served as the 13th Bishop of New York. During his lifetime, he was perhaps the best known Episcopal clergyman in the United States, and among the best known Christian clergy in any denomination.

Career Edit

Paul Moore, Jr., was a graduate of St. Paul's School and Yale University, where, like his father before him and an older brother, he was a member of Wolf's Head Society at Yale College.He left Yale in 1941 to join the Marine Corps. He was a highly decorated Marine Corps captain, a veteran of the Guadalcanal Campaign during World War Two earning the Navy Cross, a Silver Star and a Purple Heart [1]. Returning home after the War, Moore was ordained in 1949 after graduating from the General Theological Seminary in New York City. He would later be a trustee at Yale and General Theological Seminary.

Moore was named rector of Grace Church, an inner city parish in Jersey City, New Jersey, in the former township of Van Vorst,[1] where he served from 1949 to 1957. There he began his career as a social activist, protesting inner city housing conditions and racial discrimination. He and his colleagues reinvigorated their inner city parish and were celebrated in the Church for their efforts.

In 1957, he was named Dean of Christ Church Cathedral in Indianapolis, Indiana. Moore introduced the conservative Midwestern capital to social activism through his work in the inner city. This period of his ministry is the least discussed in biographical material, although the time he spent in Indianapolis was nearly as long as his years in Jersey City and longer than his years in Washington, D.C. Perhaps he never realized the impact that he, his wife, and his children had on the community. Moore served in Indianapolis until his appointment as Suffragan Bishop of Washington, D.C., in 1964.

During his time in Washington he became nationally known as an advocate for civil rights and an opponent of the Vietnam War. He knew Martin Luther King, Jr., and marched with him in Selma and elsewhere. In 1970, he was named as coadjutor and successor to Bishop Horace Donegan in New York City. He was installed as Bishop of the Diocese of New York in 1972 and held that position until 1989.

Bishop Moore was widely known for his liberal activism. Throughout his career he spoke out against homelessness and racism. He was an effective advocate for cities, once calling the corporations abandoning New York "rats leaving a sinking ship." He was the first Episcopal bishop to ordain an openly homosexual woman as a priest in the church. In his book, Take a Bishop Like Me (1979), he defended his position by arguing that many priests were homosexuals but few had the courage to acknowledge it. His liberal political views were coupled with fierce traditionalism when it came to the liturgy and even the creed. In his writings and sermons he sometimes described himself as 'born again', referring to his awakening to a fervent Christocentric faith as a boarding school student.

By birth, by inherited wealth, by friendships and career success, Bishop Moore was an acknowledged member of what was often called 'the Liberal Establishment', a group that included, among others, Kingman Brewster and Cyrus Vance, along with many other graduates of Yale College.[2] He wrote three books, The Church Reclaims the City (1965), Take a Bishop Like Me (1979), and, after his retirement, Presences: A Bishop's Life in the City (1997), a memoir of his life.

Personal lifeEdit

In 1944, while in the Marine Corps, Bishop Moore married Jenny McKean, a daughter of Bohemian privilege reared on the North Shore of Boston and educated at Madeira School, Vassar College and Barnard. (Her mother was Margarett Sargent McKean, a noted painter in the Ashcan School and a follower of George Luks.) Together they had nine children (and, at his death, many grandchildren). Jenny McKean Moore published a well reviewed account of their decade together in the slums of Jersey City under the title, The People on Second Street (1968). During that time the family lived in the tenement-like rectory of Grace van Vorst Church on Second Street in Jersey City (now called in his honor, Bishop Paul Moore Place).

Jenny McKean Moore died of colon cancer in 1973. Eighteen months later Moore married Brenda Hughes Eagle, a childless widow twenty two years his junior. She died of alcoholism in 1999. It was she who discovered his bisexual infidelity, around 1990, and made it known to his children, who kept the secret, as he had asked them to, until Honor Moore's revelations in 2008.

Honor Moore, the oldest of the bishop's nine children and a lesbian, revealed that her father was himself bisexual with a history of gay affairs in a story she wrote about him in the March 3, 2008 issue of The New Yorker [3] and in the book The Bishop's Daughter: A Memoir (W. W. Norton, 2008). In addition, she described a call she received six months after her father's death from a man, identified in the article by a pseudonym, who was the only person named in Moore's will who was unknown to the family. Honor Moore learned from the man that he had been her father's longtime gay lover and that they had traveled together to Patmos, Greece and elsewhere.[4]


  1. Jersey City History - Grace Van Vorst Church
  2. The Guradians: Kingman Brewster, His Circle, and the Rise of the Liberal Establishment, Geoffrey Kabaservice, Henry Holt and Company, LLC, 2004
  3. Personal History: The Bishop’s Daughter: Reporting & Essays: The New Yorker
  4. Vitello, Paul (March 3, 2008), “A Bishop Unveiled God’s Secrets While Keeping His Own”, New York Times, <>. Retrieved on 10 March 2008 

External links and other sourcesEdit

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