Sara. B. Moseley, first woman PCUS moderator, dies

Trailblazing Texan was 95

July 22, 2013

Sara B. Moseley

Sara Bernice Moseley, first woman moderator of the PCUS —PNS file photo


Sara Bernice Moseley, the first woman moderator of the former Presbyterian Church of the United States (PCUS), died July 18 in Sherman, Texas, after a brief hospitalization. She was 95.

Raised in Anson, Texas, Moseley graduated from Texas State College for Women (now Texas Women’s University). In 1941 she married John D. Moseley and his career took them to Fort Worth, Dallas, Washington, D.C. and in 1953 to Sherman, where he served as president and then chancellor of Austin College until his retirement in 1981. Sara B. was from that time on known lovingly as “the first lady” of Austin College.

Sara B devoted her life to her family, the Sherman community and the college and to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).  Long active in Presbyterian Women, she served the denomination in a variety of capacities at all levels. In 1978 she was elected moderator of the PCUS, the first woman to hold that position. As moderator she was a strong advocate for Presbyterian reunion, which occurred in 1983. She served as the first chair of the General Assembly Council of the new church and helped guide the reunited body through its first years.

Sara B. remained active in the life of Austin College, most recently attending her 60th commencement ceremony in May of this year.

John Moseley died in 2009. Sara B. is survived by their three children: Sara Caroline Moseley, John Dean Moseley, Jr., and Rebecca Jane Moseley Gafford; four grandchildren: Peter Junkin, Andrew Junkin , Jennifer Gafford Daugherty and David Gafford; and seven great-grandchildren: Nicholas and Isabel Junkin, Amira and Sam Junkin, Dean, Eirik, and Finn Gafford.

A memorial service and reception will be held July 26, beginning at 2:00 p.m. in the sanctuary of Covenant Presbyterian Church in Sherman, where Sara B. was active most of her adult life. 

  1. In 1969 I became the "token" young woman on the PCUS Board of Women's Work, which Sara Bernise then chaired. One of my finest experiences, greatest joy of being on that board was getting to know her, being inspired by her and seeing true leadership in action, perfected in all of its vicissitudes. A real privilege, never to be forggten experience, learning from this lovely lady who made the difference for me between an intimating experience and a truly fulfilling.

    by Marilyn Regentin

    November 5, 2015

  2. Thank God for life of faith in Jesus Christ, thank God for her love to her family, to the PCUSA and to serving Jesus as our moderator. she was a blessing to her family to her local congregation, to the college, to her community and most of all she was a blessing to the PCUSA in serving as our Moderator. Rev. Fahed Abuakel, moderator 214th General Assembly PCUSA 2002-2003

    by Rev. Fahed Abuakel

    July 26, 2013