The Reverend Clara Althia Moore Woodson was born to the late James Henry Moore and the late St. Claire Moore at Brooklyn Hospital on April 12, 1927. Mother Clara as she was affectionately and respectfully known was the second born of five. She was the only girl and the apple of her dad’s eye.
Mother Clara grew up in Brooklyn, New York where she attended a primary Sunday School class at James Methodist Episcopal Church. It was here that her dream of becoming a missionary was born.
A few years later, a minister’s wife encouraged Mother Clara to become a teacher and even convinced the church’s Board of Trustees to let Clara, who was only thirteen, teach a Sunday school class on her own. Growing up in a world of segregation and deep prejudice, Clara learned from an early age that the church was her refuge. A place that would teach her the skills needed to excel in her profession as an educator.
Mother Clara went to Brooklyn College at the age of 16. After graduating from college, she became a classroom teacher for the New York City Department of Education, known at that time as the NYC Board of Education. She referred to herself as a lifelong learner and worked to earn two Master’s Degrees in Special Education, and Guidance and Counseling. Mother Clara went on to earn her third; a Master of Divinity, from New Brunswick Theological Seminary. Mother Clara never grew tired of learning, she was always enrolled in some class, seminar, or workshop. She was well into her 70’s when she began working on a Ph.D. and continued until she reached ABD (All But Dissertation) status.
Mother Clara has two scholarships awarded in her name, one presented at a Middle School in Brooklyn and the other at New Brunswick Theological Seminary.
Mother Clara met and married the love of her life, Edwin Woodson, Sr., on Easter Sunday in 1948. For the next 65 years, they observed their anniversary on 2 different days, except on the years the dates overlapped, because he celebrated Easter Sunday and she celebrated March 28th. From this union, six children were born and raised, 4 daughters and 2 sons. Of the six, she was predeceased by two daughters, the late Rev. Phyllis Pearce, the late Dr. Althia Woodson-Robinson. Through the years, she informally adopted countless others who relied on her for motherly advice and Godly wisdom.
Prior to her ordination as a Minister of the Word & Sacrament, Mother Clara served the Reformed Church in America (RCA) as an elder, deacon, and Sunday School teacher, and, during her career, she has been active in assemblies at every level of the RCA She served the Reformed Church Women(RCW) on Classical, Synodical and Denominational levels. She also served on Multiple committees in the RCA including the Christian Action Committee, the Urban Task Force, the General Synod Executive Committee, and the Search Committee for General Secretary. She further accepted leadership roles assisting churches as they transitioned between pastors. She most recently served as a Synod Area Minister on the staff of the New York Synod. Mother Clara was the second African American woman to be ordained in the Reformed Church of America.
In her secular job world, Mother Clara served as a Classroom Teacher, Guidance Counselor, Supervisor of Guidance, Assistant Superintendent of Guidance, and Retired as Deputy Superintendent of Guidance. She received multiple citations and awards including a Lifetime Achievement Award and Brooklyn Unity Award from the Brooklyn Borough President.
Although Mother Clara loved her ministry to others, she deeply loved her growing family. She was affectionately known as Mom, Mother, Grandma, Grammie, Nana, Mother Clara, Sister, Rev. Woodson, and Mrs. Woodson.
Mother Clara’s life exemplified Matthew 5:16, “Let your light so shine among men that they may see your good works and glorify the Father in heaven”. On October 5, 2022, Mother Clara was summoned by the Highest God. She leaves to remember her, her older brother Joseph Moore (Linda); her remaining children, Edwin James L. Woodson III (Coretta), Ellynne Woodson, Rev. Brian K. Woodson, Sr. (Valerie), Dr. Celeste A. Rivers; her grandchildren Kim, Michelle, Laureece, Paul, Chazz, Bryce, Aja, Aarynne (Antonio), Bria, Joshua, Josiah, Brian, Harmonie, Coree, Krystofer (Angelica), Kiyanna (Martin), Chaliya and Jacob; her great-grandchildren Kaleb (Kaya), Heaven, Fidel, Julian, Christopher, Ishmael, Zion, Hanna, Che, Krystofer, Caelynn, Simone, MJ, Theodor, Baby Richenhagen and Baby Rivers; great-great-grandson Karter; her “In-loves” William Pearce, Bertrand Robinson, Wilma Jean Woodson, and Martin Rivers; a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, family members, church family members, neighbors, friends, and loved ones.
Mother Clara was a “Beacon of Light” to all she encountered. She devoted her life to serving others. She often stated, “I have lived long enough to experience healing from many negative, discouraging, and hurtful situations. Through it all, I have been blessed.” The world is a better place because she was here. Clara Althia Moore Woodson will be deeply missed.