Religious Figures

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Entries - Entry Category: Religious Figures - Starting with S

Sanders, Ira Eugene

Ira Eugene Sanders became the most well-known and respected rabbi in Arkansas for his indefatigable efforts in promoting social work and civil rights. Ira Sanders was born on May 6, 1894, in Rich Hill, Missouri, one of five children of Daniel and Pauline (Ackerman) Sanders. His father was a wholesale meat packer. When Ira was six years old, his family moved to Kansas City, Missouri, where he attended public school. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Cincinnati, possibly in sociology, in 1918; he then obtained a rabbinate degree from the (Reform) Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati, in 1919 and was ordained as a rabbi that year. He served as rabbi of Congregation Keneseth Israel in Allentown, …

Saphore, Edwin Warren

The Right Reverend Edwin Warren Saphore served from 1935 until 1938 as the seventh bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Arkansas. In 1917, he became the first elected suffragan (assistant) bishop of the diocese, serving in that position until the retirement of Bishop James R. Winchester in 1931. In the absence of a duly elected and ratified bishop, he served as the ecclesiastical authority of the diocese until his election as bishop in 1935. Edwin Warren Saphore was born in Rahway, New Jersey, on September 17, 1854, to Daniel A. Saphore and Martha Warren Saphore. He graduated from South Jersey Institute at Bridgeton, New Jersey, and received a BA from Pennsylvania State College (now the University of Pennsylvania) and an …

Sartain, J. Peter

James Peter Sartain was the sixth bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Little Rock, which encompasses all of the state of Arkansas. Although he was only briefly in Arkansas, Sartain’s reign coincided with great growth: under his watch, the Diocese of Little Rock increased from 90,600 members to 107,000, Hispanic ministry became more focused, and the numbers of seminarians and ordinations rose dramatically. J. Peter Sartain was born in Memphis, Tennessee, on June 6, 1952, to Joseph and Catherine Sartain; he was the youngest of five and the only boy. Faith was very important to the Sartains, who passed on this influence to their children: one of Sartain’s sisters became a Dominican sister, and three of his sisters have …

Sawyer, Sophia

Sophia Sawyer, an educator whose calling was to teach the Cherokee, founded the Fayetteville Female Seminary in 1839. This tireless educator was associated with the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions of the Congregational Church. Sophia Sawyer was born May 4 or 5, 1792, in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. Little is known of her parents, save for the fact that they were extremely poor farmers who eventually bought a farm in New Hampshire. She never married. Dr. Seth Payson, a Congregational clergyman from Rindge, New Hampshire, took Sawyer into his home as a housemaid after her parents died and sent her to school. Sawyer gained teaching experience in the Payson household, teaching basic education during the summer at Rindge but needed …

Smith, Gerald Lyman Kenneth

Gerald Lyman Kenneth Smith was a minister and political agitator who built a series of “Sacred Projects,” tourist attractions with a religious theme, in Eureka Springs (Carroll County) beginning in the 1960s. He attained prominence first in the 1930s as an organizer for Louisiana political boss Huey P. Long but was known more for far-right activism, particularly for anti-Semitic and fascist causes. Gerald L. K. Smith was born on February 7, 1898, on a farm in Pardeeville, Wisconsin, to Lyman Z. Smith and Sarah Smith. He had one sister. He was descended from three generations of Disciples of Christ ministers, earned a degree in biblical studies from Valparaiso University in Indiana in 1918, and became a minister himself, serving churches …

Smith, Ocie Lee (O. C.), Jr.

Ocie Lee (O. C.) Smith Jr. started out singing jazz before moving into the genres of country and rhythm & blues/soul. After touring with Count Basie’s band in the early 1960s, he had his biggest hit with the song “Little Green Apples,” which reached number two on the pop and R&B charts in 1968. In the 1980s, he put aside his career as a recording artist to become a minister. Smith was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 1996. O. C. Smith was born in Mansfield, Louisiana, on June 21, 1936 (although some sources say 1932). His parents, Ocie Lee Smith Sr. and Ruth Edwards Shorter Smith, who were both teachers, moved to Little Rock (Pulaski County) …

Stevenson, William

William Stevenson was a nineteenth-century preacher generally credited with bringing Methodism to Arkansas. A prototypical frontier preacher and circuit rider, he moved from frontier region to frontier region—from the South Carolina frontier to Tennessee, from there to Missouri, and from there to Arkansas—until he finally settled in Louisiana. Swept into the enthusiastic Methodism of the Second Great Awakening, he felt a desire to spread the faith that led him into sparsely settled areas. In doing so, he laid the foundations of the Methodist faith in Arkansas. William Stevenson was born on October 4, 1768, in a frontier area of South Carolina, not far from the line marking Cherokee land. His parents, James Stevenson and Elizabeth Stevenson, were Presbyterian, and he was …

Stout, William C.

The clergyman William Cummins Stout was the master of two large antebellum plantations at the foot of Petit Jean Mountain in Conway County and the “first Arkansas man ordained to the priesthood of the Episcopal Church in Arkansas,” according to church records. William Stout was born in Greene County, Tennessee, on February 18, 1824. His parents, John G. Stout and Mary Kirby Stout, moved with their children to Fayetteville (Washington County) in 1830, where they continued their farming occupation. While a young man working in a store near the Indian Territory line, Stout attended meetings conducted by Bishop Leonidas Polk and discerned a religious calling. With Polk’s encouragement, Stout received his education at Kemper College in Missouri, then Nashotah House …