Betty Mosley, 89, an Episcopal bishop's wife and advocate for women's rights, including their ordination to the priesthood, died of pneumonia Monday, May 2, at Foulkeways, a retirement community in Gwynedd.
In 1972, Mrs. Mosley accompanied her husband, Bishop J. Brooke Mosley, to the annual meeting of the House of Bishops in Hendersonville, N.C. At the conference, she and two other bishops' wives invited four women who were seeking ordination to address all of the bishops' wives. "This created such a stir as you wouldn't believe! Some of the bishops were livid," said Carter Heyward, one of the four women.
Heyward said the event was "one of the pivotal moments in the movement for the ordination of women."
The next year, when five male deacons were ordained priests at St. John the Divine Episcopal Church in New York, five female deacons who had sought ordination, including Heyward, walked out of the church in the middle of the service, along with half the congregation.
At the time, Mrs. Mosley and her husband were living in an apartment at Union Theological Seminary in New York, where he was president.
The female deacons and dozens of other people walked from St. John's to the Mosleys' apartment and spent the rest of the day talking and being fed wonderful goodies by Mrs. Mosely, who joined in strategy sessions, said Heyward, professor emerita at Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass.
In July 1974, despite her husband's reservations about the event, Mrs. Moseley was Heyward's lay presenter at an "irregular" ordination service in Philadelphia for 11 women. In 1976, Episcopal church law was changed to allow women to be ordained, and the 11 women were recognized as priests.
In New York, Mrs. Mosley was coordinator of a women's counseling project at Columbia University.
In 1974, she and her husband moved to Center City when he became assistant bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Philadelphia. She served on the boards of Choice, a reproductive-information service; Voyage House, a residence for troubled girls; and Women's Way in Philadelphia. She and her husband were active in the peace movement during the Vietnam War.
Mrs. Mosley graduated from Willow Grove High School and attended Grove City College and Beaver College, now Arcadia University.
She and her husband married in 1942. Their families attended the same church, St. Ann's Episcopal in Abington. The couple lived in Cincinnati, Washington, and Wilmington, where he was Episcopal bishop of Delaware for 13 years. He then was involved with church ministries overseas, and he and his wife traveled to Europe and to missions in the Philippines, Liberia, and the Dominican Republic.
Mrs. Mosely loved to sing and was a talented pianist, her daughter Sally Sandor said. She sometimes played the organ at St. Aidan's Summer Chapel in South Dartmouth, Mass., where her husband ministered in the summer. After he died in 1988, she continued to vacation in South Dartmouth until four years ago.
In addition to her daughter, Mrs. Mosley is survived by a daughter, Miriam; a son, Peter; and six grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. Monday, May 23, at Foulkeways, 1120 Meetinghouse Rd., Gwynedd. Burial will be in St. Aidan's Summer Chapel churchyard in August.
Donations may be made to Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania, 1144 Locust St., Philadelphia 19107.