Brooke Mosley and his wife, Betty, are two very important people in the history of Camp Joy. Let us tell you their story. The world was gifted on 10/18/15 when J. Brooke Mosley, Jr. was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Brooke graduated from high school at age 15, from Temple University in 1937 and earned a Degree of Divinity from Episcopal Theological Seminary (ETS) in 1940. While he attended ETS, he chose a summer internship at the Graduate School of Applied Religion in Cincinnati, which was led by the Rev. Joseph Fletcher. During this experience, he did social casework in downtown Cincinnati and organizing sharecroppers in the Mississippi Delta. Joe Fletcher became an influential mentor and a good friend.
Brooke’s previous experience in the Queen City and Fletcher’s grad school is what drew him back to Cincinnati for his Deacon experience. The influence of this teacher – and practical life-service opportunities – served to reinforce views that led Brook to a lifetime of social action. But that’s getting ahead of the story.
Brooke was ordained an Episcopal Deacon in 1940, and was assigned to St. Barnabas Mission in Cincinnati’s impoverished West End. There he met and worked with Captain Larry Hall, a Captain in the Anglican Church Army, (an evangelical arm of the Episcopal Church.) In 1937, Captain Hall and his wife Sadie saw the need to afford neighborhood youth a reprieve from the oppression of poverty and scalding summer heat. Thus Camp Joy was born! When Captain Hall was re-assigned to Christ Church, Brooke and Betty Mosley kept the growing camp alive and thriving with the help of volunteers. Deac was also in charge of St. Barnabas parish.
The kids at Camp Joy adored “Deac” (short for Deacon) and Betty! When the cook unexpectedly quit, Betty, a newlywed, had to prepare meals for packs of hungry campers daily. Frank Wetenkamp, one of the first campers at Joy shared, “We all survived and she was better for it. She wasn’t afraid of anything since then!” Deac was a marvelous story teller and would entertain and delight campers with ghost stories and scary tales like “The Monkey’s Paw.” Frank commented that Cap and Sadie and Deac and Betty, “Were the most caring, loving dynamic I have ever met. Their virtuous words and deeds shone through to everybody they met. People were drawn to them like bees to honey.”
Regarding aspects of Deac’s personality, Frank noted that Deac was the kind of person that if anyone was in trouble or needed him, he was right there. A St. Barnabas parishioner told Deac that folks in the neighborhood were extremely upset about rat infestation. The rodents would crawl into baby’s cribs and bite the nipples on their bottles to get to the milk. Deac took photos of the rats and promised he would go to City Hall and do something. City Hall experienced the “magic of Deac.” “Please take care of this problem or I will have to share these photos with the Cincinnati Enquirer.” The exterminations showed up shortly thereafter…
Brooke’s experiences with inner city folks in Cincinnati and at Camp Joy, some circumstances he had witnessed while earning schooling money – (such as a large department store letting full time employees go to hire student workers for less pay) – combined with educational influences and the ethical teachings of Joseph Fletcher – inspired him to a lifetime of working for social justice. Brooke described himself as a “worldly Christian who is more interested in what God is doing in the world than in what is happening in religious institutions.” His career is proof that he walked this talk.
Brooke, now an ordained an Episcopal priest in 1941, remained with St. Barnabas and Camp Joy until 1944, when he was called to serve the Diocese of Washington DC, as Head of the Department of Christian Social Relations. To summarize a long successful career in a few sentences is a near impossible task. He served the Diocese of Delaware as Dean, Bishop Coadjutor (Bishop in waiting) and Bishop from 1948-1968, was Bishop in Charge of the Convocation of American Episcopal Churches in Europe and Deputy for Overseas Relations for the Episcopal Church(68-70), President of Union Theological Seminary(70-74) and Assistant Bishop of Pennsylvania (74-82). For those not familiar with the workings of the Episcopal Church, suffice it to say that these were major accomplishments. He won a plethora of awards and earned more honorary degrees than a thermometer exhibits. He had audiences with President Kennedy (speaking for peace) and with Pope Paul VI. He remained humble despite his achievements. And he helped a lot of people. A whole lot.
He was blessed with excellent speaking abilities and a brilliant mind, and he used those blessings in his work to combat social injustice. Deac marched for Civil Rights and was very instrumental in getting things done in that area. He protested the Vietnam War. He wrote a book and influential pamphlets. He was not afraid to speak up and stand his ground. People weren’t always happy with his stances, but he held strong and remained true to his beliefs. Betty was a constant encouraging companion and stood up for what she believed in as well. She was instrumental in advocating for the right of women to be ordained as priests in the church, and was greatly admired for that. Together they truly were a dynamic duo. Along the way they had three adored children, Miriam, Sarah and Peter. Guess who was Peter’s Godfather? (Hint: initials J.F.) Deac and Fletcher maintained a lifelong friendship.
People interviewed raved about Deac. “…buoyant and vigorous spirit who brought hope and joy to others” – like he did at Joy! “Served faithfully, courageously and lovingly” – as he did at Joy. “He spoke up on behalf of people” – remember the rat infestation in the West End? “He was smart – he cared – everyone loved him a lot” – just like he was/and they did at Camp Joy. Deac and Betty truly were gifts to the world and the greatest of gifts to Camp Joy. Without their teaming with Cap and Sadie, then eventually running Joy and keeping it alive and growing, we would not be celebrating 80 years of transforming lives at Camp Joy today. Their lives and values truly uplifted people and made a positive difference in bettering the human condition. They live on in the hearts of the multitude of folks who were touched by their legacy of unselfish love, service, courage and their actions against social injustice. And Brooke and Betty Mosley remain forever in the hearts of those who have been impacted by their life-lasting influence at Camp Joy. We only wish they knew how much. Thank you, Mosleys. From our hearts to yours, thank you.
If you would like to learn more about Joy’s Founders, Larry and Sadie Hall, please read their story, “Love and Service Was Their Code.
If you would like to learn more about the Halls, the Mosleys and their influence on first Joy camper, Frank Wetenkamp, please read his story, “Living Legacy: Learning How to Love”