Moon glows bright: ESM pastor is ‘Citizen of the Year’

Published 4:20 am Wednesday, May 8, 2019

The Rev. Bill Moon is used to preaching the good news as the pastor of ESM United Methodist Church in Bogalusa. On Monday, Moon received some good news of his own.

Moon was chosen as the 2018 Bogalusa Citizen of the Year. Past Citizen of the Year winners voted on the award at The Daily News office, and then called Moon to find out where he was, so they could deliver the news in person. Initially, the plans were to go to his house, but they soon discovered that he was in a meeting — appropriately enough, at the church.

Church member and past Citizen of the Year John Gallaspy told Moon over the phone that “he had found something unusual growing in the garden” and wanted Moon to look at it. Then, the past Citizens of the Year traveled to ESM and surprised Moon with the news in the middle of his meeting.

“I am truly honored,” Moon said, after he was given a round of applause by the church members present at the Monday meeting. “I had no idea that this was coming.”

Moon has been pastor at ESM since June of 2014, after previously serving four years in Arcadia.

“I’m very humbled,” Moon said. “I’ve only been here for a few years, and I just think about those folks who have been here their whole lives and how deserving I think they would be for this award. I’m so honored to be recognized like this.”

Moon will be honored at a public reception later this year. The date and location will be announced in the future.

Moon was nominated by several readers, some of whom included additional letters of why they felt he was a worthy choice for the honor.

One letter writer noted that Moon has always cooperated with other churches, even ones that aren’t Methodist.

“Bill Moon has made a very positive impact on this community in a very short period of time,” the nominating letter stated, noting that Moon will soon be retiring from ESM and moving away. “He’ll be missed badly by the community as a whole.”

Moon is a past president of the Bogalusa Rotary Club and a current club member, and is the founder of the Widow’s Garden at ESM. He received the prestigious Paul Harris Award for community service in Rotary in 2018.

“Brother Moon is a very humble, kind man,” wrote another reader who nominated Moon. “From what we have observed of him, he seems very community-oriented. He organized a Christmas drive-thru, along with the help of members of his congregation and members of other churches.”

Another reader noted that Moon often does things behind the scenes to help out. The reader said that he has provided low-cost lodging and meals for visiting teams of mission groups, performs tractor repairs and maintenance for citizens, and “personally responds to pleas for assistance by elderly citizens … take them to doctor appointments, and does maintenance and repair chores at their home.”

Another reader closed the nomination ballot by simply writing “too much to list,” as far as Moon’s deserving accomplishments were concerned.