Entry Category: Religion

Blake, Charles E.

Charles Edward Blake Sr. is the presiding bishop of the Church of God in Christ (COGIC). He is also pastor of West Angeles Church of God in Christ, which has a membership of more than 25,000. In addition, Blake founded Save Africa’s Children, which provides orphan care programs across the continent of Africa. He was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2009. Charles E. Blake was born on August 5, 1940, in North Little Rock (Pulaski County) to Junious Augustus Blake and Lula Champion Blake. His father was a native of Camden (Ouachita County) who pastored various churches throughout Arkansas before moving to California. Charles Blake was ordained a minister himself in 1962. He received a BA …

Block, Frances Isaiah Isaacs (Fanny)

Frances (Fanny) Block was the matriarch of the first documented Jewish family to immigrate to what became the state of Arkansas. After courtship and the start of a family in Virginia and New York, Block and her family moved to southwestern Arkansas in search of new economic opportunities. Her willingness to forgo the stability of a religious community on the East Coast and move her family west allowed the family to establish a regional mercantile empire that included businesses in places such as Washington (Hempstead County), Fulton (Hempstead County), and Paraclifta (Sevier County) in Arkansas, as well as in New Orleans, Louisiana, and at several stops along the railroad in Texas from Houston to Dallas. Fanny Block and her family …

Bogard, Benjamin Marcus

Benjamin Marcus Bogard, founder and head of the American Baptist Association, was Arkansas’s leading fundamentalist Christian in the 1920s. In 1928, his efforts resulted in a law banning the teaching of evolution in Arkansas public schools; it remained in place until 1968, when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned it. Bogard was born on March 9, 1868, in Hardin County, Kentucky. He was the only son of tobacco tenant farmers M. L. and Nancy Bogard; the couple also had five daughters. In 1873, the Bogards moved to Caseyville, Kentucky, where Bogard attended school, Woodland Baptist Church, and evangelical camp meetings. In February 1885, he was baptized in an ice-covered pond during a church service. In 1887 and 1888, he attended Georgetown …

Booker, Joseph Albert

Joseph Albert Booker—noted editor, educator, and community leader—was for four decades a prominent leader in Arkansas racial relations and a pioneer in African-American education in the state. Joseph Booker was born into slavery on December 26, 1859, in Old Portland, east of modern Portland (Ashley County). He was the son of Albert and Mary (Punchardt) Booker, who were slaves on the large Bayou Bartholomew plantation of John P. Fisher. Booker’s mother died shortly after his birth. According to one source, when Booker was three, his father, a man with “some knowledge of books,” died when his slave master whipped him to death. His father’s crime was urging his fellow slaves to revolt by “teaching them to read.” At the end …

Bosmyer, Peggy Sue

When the Reverend Dr. Peggy Bosmyer was ordained in January 1977 at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Little Rock (Pulaski County) by the Right Reverend Christoph Keller Jr., bishop of the Diocese of Arkansas, she was the first woman in the South to be regularly ordained under a new canon as a priest in the Episcopal Church in the United States of America (ECUSA). Peggy Sue Bosmyer was born on July 26, 1948, in Helena (Phillips County), the daughter of Thomas Bosmyer, who was an insurance adjustor, and Margaret Markland Bosmyer, an elementary school teacher. Her older sister, Judy, had been born in 1944. Bosmyer graduated from Central High School in Helena in 1966. In 1970, she received a BA in …

Brockwell Gospel Music School

The Brockwell Gospel Music School offers instruction in choral and instrumental musical techniques for those who desire the improvement of church music. It operates every summer on a small campus in Brockwell (Izard County) at the intersection of State Highways 9 and 56. It was founded in 1947 as the Brockwell Music School, assumed its present name in 1962, and operates at its original site. The singing-school tradition goes back to the time of the Second Great Awakening on the American frontier in the first years of the nineteenth century. This tradition contributed significantly to the growth and power of the great revivals that especially captivated gospel-hungry settlers in the frontier South in the first third of the century. Itinerant …

Brooks, Ida Josephine

Ida Josephine Brooks was a teacher and early school administrator in Little Rock (Pulaski County). She was among Arkansas’s earliest women physicians and the first female faculty member at the University of Arkansas Medical School (now the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences). She also took an active role in advocating for women’s rights. Ida Joe Brooks, the fourth of six children, was born at Muscatine, Iowa, on April 28, 1853, to Methodist minister Joseph Brooks and Elizabeth Goodenough Brooks. Brooks’s father was a candidate for governor in Arkansas in 1872 against Elisha Baxter. Both candidates claimed victory, precipitating the Brooks-Baxter War, with Brooks the loser. Little is known of Ida Joe Brooks’s childhood education. She graduated from Central High …

Brown, Fountain

Fountain Brown was a Methodist preacher who was the first person to be charged and found guilty of violating the Emancipation Proclamation. Charged with having sold several of his slaves back into slavery after they had in fact been freed by President Abraham Lincoln’s order, Brown found himself at the center of a case that reflected the changes that came with the war. For a brief time, it was a celebrated legal matter leading to an active postwar effort to secure a pardon for the physically ailing Brown. Little is known about Fountain Brown’s early years. He is thought to have been born in 1806 or 1807, but the location is unknown. A one-time resident of Tennessee, he had been …

Brown, William Montgomery

The colorful William Montgomery Brown was consecrated as the assistant bishop of the Diocese of Arkansas on June 24, 1898, and soon became bishop after the death of Henry Niles Pierce. In 1925, after openly embracing materialism and communism, Brown became the only bishop in the Episcopal Church ever removed from office because of heresy. These heretical views were presented in his book Communism and Christianism: Banish Gods from Skies and Capitalists from Earth. William Montgomery Brown was born on September 4, 1855, on a farm west of Orrville, Ohio, the son of a maid, Lucina Elzina Cary, and a day laborer, Joseph Morrison Brown. He had a sister and a brother. He became an orphan during the Civil War …

Buddhists

Buddhists in Arkansas are represented by ethnic immigrants who bring to the state the religious practices of their homelands as well as native Arkansans who have turned to Buddhism for their spiritual needs. Though less than one percent of the population of Arkansas, Buddhists in the state have established temples testifying to their presence, in addition to meeting in a variety of formal and informal groups. Buddhism can be described as a religion, a philosophy, a psychology, a practice, or a way of life. Buddhism’s essentially non-theistic framework, along with its emphasis on personal experience as the only true validation of its teachings, sets it apart from most other religious systems. Despite the varied schools of Buddhist thought and practice, …

Byrne, Andrew

Andrew Byrne was the first Roman Catholic bishop of Little Rock (Pulaski County), a diocese which then and now encompasses the boundaries of the state of Arkansas. A prelate on the southern frontier, he had few Catholics in his ecclesiastical domain; nevertheless, he planted the Church so deeply that even his death, the Civil War, and the five-year absence of any bishop could not eradicate the faith. Andrew Byrne was born in Navan, a town about forty miles northwest of Dublin, Ireland, the son of Robert and Margery Moore Byrne. There is no exact date of his birth on parish records, though they record that he was baptized on December 3, 1802; with his name being Andrew, he may have …

Calico Rock Methodist Episcopal Church

aka: Calico Rock Music Hall
The Calico Rock Methodist Episcopal Church, located in Calico Rock (Izard County), was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007, the same year it was reopened as the Calico Rock Music Hall. The building’s Craftsman style and tan and dark red bricks are unusual in the Ozark Mountains. In the sanctuary, the original banked pews, pine floors, triple tray pressed-tin ceiling, and stained glass windows are still in place, as well as the 500-pound bell in the tower. Each of the five classrooms on the first floor has several six-foot-long double-hung windows. When the St. Louis and Iron Mountain Railroad began laying tracks along the banks of the White River in 1903, Calico Rock became a boom …

Camp Aldersgate

Camp Aldersgate in Little Rock (Pulaski County) is Arkansas’s only non-profit organization dedicated to serving children with disabilities, youths, and senior citizens in a camp environment. One of a few urban camps in the nation, Camp Aldersgate is situated on 120 wooded acres in the state’s largest city, Little Rock (Pulaski County). Dedicated in the summer of 1947, the camp had as its original purpose to serve as a place for interracial fellowship, meetings, and Christian training. Seeing a need for social change and racial harmony, a group of women of the Little Rock Methodist Council requested a grant of $25,000 from the Women’s Division of the General Board of Global Ministries of the Methodist Church in 1946. The grant …

Camp Magnolia

Camp Magnolia, also known as Civilian Public Service Camp No. 7, was the only World War II–era work camp in Arkansas established for religious conscientious objectors (COs). There, COs engaged in much the same work as the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and took part in government-controlled medical experiments. The Selective Training and Service Act of 1940 contained a provision that allowed those who objected to military service on grounds of religious or personal beliefs to render public service for the nation in alternative settings. This provision had been the result of intense lobbying by historic peace churches, such as the Society of Friends (Quakers), the Mennonites, and the Church of the Brethren. When conscription for the anticipated war began on …

Carmelite Monastery of St. Teresa of Jesus

The Carmelite Monastery of St. Teresa of Jesus is the home of the Discalced Carmelite Nuns of Little Rock (Pulaski County), a cloistered community of women in the Roman Catholic Church. The monastery is autonomous (independent) but belongs to a worldwide order composed of both men and women. The principal mission of the Carmelites is service of the Church through a life of union with God in prayer. The Carmelite Order traces its history from the twelfth century with a group of hermits living on Mount Carmel in Palestine. In the thirteenth century, they transferred to Europe. There, the order was “reformed” in the sixteenth century as a result of the Council of Trent and the many spiritual gifts of …

Carolina Methodist Church

The Carolina Methodist Church is located near Rosston (Nevada County). Constructed in 1871, the building and associated cemetery are the last remnants of the Carolina community. The church was added to the National Register of Historic Places on January 3, 1991. The first settlers to the area began arriving around 1855, when the land was part of Ouachita County. Some evidence suggests that the church congregation was founded the following year. The land where the church would be built was purchased by the board of trustees for twenty-five cents on January 15, 1870, from the John W. Shell and W. C. Hatley families. The church building was likely constructed by the following year, and the property records were transferred to …

Carpenter, Cornelius Tyree

Cornelius Tyree (C. T.) Carpenter was an educator, minister, and attorney in northeastern Arkansas. In addition to serving as president of Woodland Baptist College in Jonesboro (Craighead County) and being minister of the First Baptist Church of Marked Tree (Poinsett County), he gained national attention as the attorney for the Southern Tenant Farmers’ Union (STFU) from 1935 to 1936. C. T. Carpenter was born on September 5, 1874, in Rockbridge County, Virginia, to John T. Carpenter and Sarah Carpenter. He had three brothers and one sister. His father was a Baptist minister who studied under General Robert E. Lee at Washington College after the Civil War. The family was well established in Virginia and, according to Oren Stephens of Harper’s …

Cathedral of St. Andrew

aka: St. Andrew's Catholic Cathedral
The Cathedral of St. Andrew is the oldest continuing place of worship in Little Rock (Pulaski County). It was dedicated in 1881 by Bishop Edward Fitzgerald, the second bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Little Rock. Built in Gothic Revival style, the Cathedral of St. Andrew is made of rusticated granite mined from the Fourche Mountains, the northern section of the Ouachita Mountains. The structure, which was designed by architect Thomas Harding, is located at 617 South Louisiana Street, between 6th and 7th streets. Seating a maximum of 450, it is a comparatively small Catholic cathedral. The bell tower contains a 3,400-pound bell, the heaviest in Pulaski County. The bell tower stands 231 feet tall and was completed in …

Catholic High School for Boys (CHS)

aka: Little Rock Catholic High School for Boys
Catholic High School for Boys (CHS) in Little Rock (Pulaski County) has educated boys for three quarters of a century. Previous to the school’s inception, Subiaco Academy, a boarding school at Subiaco Abbey in Logan County, was the only secondary education option for Catholic boys, while Catholic girls have been attending Mount St. Mary Academy, operated by the Sisters of Mercy, since the 1850s. CHS was the diocese’s first inter-parochial high school, meaning that the school was to serve every parish in the Little Rock area, ensuring that Catholic boys could receive a quality, Catholic secondary education. CHS remains different from the other Catholic high schools in the Diocese of Little Rock, which encompasses the entirety of the state, given …

Centennial Baptist Church

The 1905 Gothic Revival Centennial Baptist Church, located at York and Columbia streets in Helena-West Helena (Phillips County), was listed as a National Historic Landmark on July 31, 2003. The building serves as a physical symbol of the work of the Reverend Elias Camp Morris. Morris dedicated his life to furthering the religious, political, and societal achievements of African Americans locally and nationally through his work as president and founder of the National Baptist Convention. Centennial Baptist is the only remaining structure associated with the productive life of Morris, who was pastor of the congregation in an earlier building on the site in 1879 and continued serving at the 1905 Centennial Baptist Church until his death in 1922. Morris’s outreach …

Central Baptist College

Central Baptist College in Conway (Faulkner County) is the only institution of higher education in the state affiliated with the Baptist Missionary Association of Arkansas. It complements the mission of sister schools in Texas (Jacksonville College), Mississippi (Southeastern Baptist College), as well as the disbanded Midwestern Baptist College in Oklahoma. Central Baptist College opened in 1952 in Conway under the name of Central College for Christian Workers, as the educational ministry of the North American Baptist Association (NABA), which was later renamed the Baptist Missionary Association of Arkansas (BMAA). The college began as an extension of Jacksonville College in Texas, holding classes in the Temple Baptist Church facilities in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Soon, however, the denomination purchased for the …