In 1977, Peggy S. Bosmyer was ordained an Episcopal priest at Little Rock’s Trinity Cathedral. Not only was she the first woman in Arkansas to be ordained to a full priesthood in the Episcopal Church, she was the first woman south of the Mason-Dixon line.
Born in Helena, she was a graduate of the University of Arkansas and Virginia Theological Seminary. She served as a deacon at Grace Episcopal in Pine Bluff before serving as a curate at Little Rock’s St. Mark’s Episcopal. In 1976, the Episcopal Church approved the ordination of women to the priesthood. It was after that she was able to be ordained in 1977. Her ordination was front page news in the Arkansas Gazette.
Following ordination, she was appointed Vicar of Little Rock’s St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, then a part-time position. She also served as a program director for the Diocese of Arkansas, which included oversight of Camp Mitchell. In 1985, Rev. Bosmyer was appointed full-time Vicar of St. Michael’s. Nine years later, she left Little Rock to be a professor on the faculty of the School of Theology at the University of the South. While there she served as Co-Vicar of St. James at Sewanee. She also received her Doctor of Divinity from the University of the South in 1999.
Rev. Dr. Bosmyer returned to Little Rock in 2001 to be Vicar of St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church. She held that position until her death in December 2008 from pancreatic cancer. She is interred at the columbarium of St. Margaret’s. She was survived by her husband of 24 years, Reverend Dr. Dennis Campbell, and four children.
She was not only one of the first female Episcopal priests in the U.S, she was on the forefront of women serving as ordained priests and preachers in mainline denominations. Certainly her ordination was not without controversy. There are still those who disagree with women serving as priests (though likely few remain within the Episcopal church). The legacy of Rev. Dr. Bosmyer continues today with the women serving as rectors, vicars, priests in charge, and associate rectors throughout the state of Arkansas. While Arkansas has not had a woman serve as Bishop, Rev. Dr. Katherine Jefferts Schori served as Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church from 2006 to 2015.
Though not leaving Little Rock, Patricia Matthews is moving on from Christ Church to take a position at St. Mark’s Church.
In appreciation for her many gifts, this tribute is offered. The title comes from the conclusion of her final sermon at Christ Church.
SEE YOU TOMORROW
Two parishes are different today.
One because it is missing someone.
One because it has gained someone.
A woman of grace and humor.
A woman of grins and hugs.
She is a keeper of secrets.
Be they the most fantastic story of a preschooler,
Or a heartbreaking confession of an adult.
She is a user of hands.
Be they gardening or greeting,
Comforting the afflicted, administering communion.
She is a seeker.
Be it roasted nuts on a Mississippi roadside,
Or truths for living from a difficult scripture.
She is a giver.
Of knowledge, succor, and time.
And encouraging others to explore their talents.
She is a family-person.
A finder of time to devote to her husband and children
And share in their interests while involving them in hers.
She is eclectic.
Her taste in music, literature, and movies
Runs the gamut from Monty Python to Harper Lee.
Two parishes are different today.
One because it knows how special she is.
One because it is about to find out how lucky it is.
Helen Caruthers loved classical music. It was one of her life’s callings. (Another was being devoted to her family.) After graduating with a degree in Music Education from Mississippi State College for Women, she was a music educator the rest of her life.
She was involved in music teaching and performing in Tennessee, Georgia and Colorado before arriving in Little Rock in 1977. Once she arrived in Arkansas, she made her mark here. As someone who had served as a church organist and sung in many church choirs, it was no surprise that she created and led the children’s choir at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church.
But liturgical music was not her only interest. She was interested in many kinds of music, but especially classical. She taught piano to several generations of students. Along the way, she instilled other lessons into the students such as the value of practice, concentration, diligence and doing your best.
Helen was a tireless volunteer for the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, the Arkansas Chamber Singers, the Little Rock Musical Coterie, and countless other musical organizations. She was also a member of the Aesthetic Club. She pursued all these endeavors with a gentle voice and a graceful poise that charmed all who knew her. Even as she endured a six year battle with ovarian cancer, she would attend as many musical events as possible to show support for the musicians and to enjoy the music.
The photo on the right (which was used for her obituary) captures the essence of Helen Caruthers. She holds a musical score in her hands, while pausing by the door with purse and keys. She is either on her way out or on her way back, but in either case – you can tell she was a woman on a mission. But she also is glad to pause for a second to smile graciously and gracefully for the camera. It is helpful to remember to take those pauses in life. Much like in a musical score, rests are essential to help us enjoy the rest of the music.
This week’s Sculpture Vulture focuses on Denny Haskew’s Love and Forgiveness which can be found in the columbarium at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church. Donated by Mary and Dr. Dean Kumpuris it is the focal point of this peaceful, respectful site of contemplation, grief and hope.
Haskew’s sculpture features a rising figure with arms stretched out and palms facing upward towards the heavens. The figure is emerging from a cross which is planted in a pile of rocks at the base. The figure’s face is marked with a serene determination.
This sculpture was cast in 1999. It stands approximately 8 feet tall in bronze on top of a two foot stone base. It was the first of Haskew’s sculptures to be placed in Little Rock. He now has several in private collections as well as Riverfront Park.
A member of the National Sculptors’ Guild, Haskew has participated each year in the Sculpture at the River Market invitational.