He “was a champion of the faith; a tireless churchman, whose principled wisdom, sagacious humor and razor wit were legendary and widely loved by the casual acquaintances well as by his family and longtime friends” *
While I was a young law student at the University of Arkansas I was in the midst of a series of transitions. One of those involved conversion from membership in the United Methodist Church to the Episcopal Church. This conversion stared on an Easter Sunday while I was still an undergraduate. I was asked by a hall mate whose father was an Episcopal Priest to play for the Easter Eucharist at his father’s church. In those days the Holy Communion as celebrated in the United Methodist Church followed almost exactly the order of that prescribed by the Book of Common Prayer. But, experiencing it for the first time as the Episcopal Church celebrates it was an eye opening and spirit jolting experience. It was at that moment I realized where I was “called” to be.
As I continued to struggle with whether to make the formal “leap” from Methodism to Anglicanism I entered law school at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. And, it was in Fayetteville that I met Bishop Salmon who was at that time the Rector of Saint Paul’s. I can remember countless sessions of confiding in him my hopes and fears and of receiving his very steady, calm, and insightful advice. And, as a result of his counsel and advice I began confirmation classes and became confirmed.
One of my fondest memories is standing on the law school campus during a break with a group of friends and noticing in the distance a long black car progressing silently down the street. That particular street was set below the level of the law school grounds and all one could see was the very top of the car. It was an eerie sight as the car seemed to float along making no sound. As it drew closer one was able to make out that it was being driven by a large man with long white sideburns dressed all in black except for a small bit of white round his neck. I then realized it was Bishop (Father then) Salmon calmly and methodically piloting his Bentley as he drove from Saint Paul’s to what he referred to as the Mountain. This sight made a deep impression and each day thereafter we would gather at the same spot to see if the sight repeated itself, and it did day after day. Even then the Bishop was instilling faith in a divine changelessness against the changes and chances of an ever changing world. During Sunday classes at Saint Paul’s he would often decry the trends of current morality by lamenting that in our current climate we “have taken on the values of nomads”.
Bishop Salmon had a calm steadiness about him that encouraged confidence and conveyed that eternal changelessness of the divine. I remember fondly his stories, his fondness for music, and his truly sage advice. He will be sorely missed. Requiesce in pace.
- The Right Reverend Mark Lawrence