For the Rev. Rebecca Walker Boggan, Christian theology came with a melody and sometimes you could even dance to it.
The United Methodist deacon, who helped shape music ministry across the Arkansas Conference, died Oct. 18, 2022, in Little Rock, Arkansas. She was 67 and for the past two years had suffered from cerebral amyloid angiopathy, an incurable disease.
She is immediately preceded in death by her husband of 43 years and frequent ministry partner, the Rev. Dr. William “Kurt” Boggan. He died July 20, also at the age of 67.
Born on April 25, 1955, in Abilene, Texas, she met her future husband when the two were students at Southern Methodist University’s Perkins School of Theology in Dallas. She eventually earned master’s degrees in sacred music and vocal performance. She also taught music in Dallas during Kurt Boggan’s last year of seminary. The two wed in 1979.
The couple returned to Kurt Boggan’s native Arkansas, where they began raising a family. She served alongside her husband as he took on pastoral appointments in United Methodist churches across the state. In the 1990s, she followed her own call to ordained ministry becoming a deacon in 2000.
She served as associate pastor alongside her husband at Highland Valley United Methodist Church in Little Rock. She then served as deacon at Cornerstone in Jonesboro, Bryant First, Little Rock First, Springdale First and finally alongside her husband again at Bentonville First.
In The United Methodist Church, deacons are called to the ministry of the Word and service. For the Rev. Rebecca Boggan, that service took a variety of forms.
“If she saw a need in a local church, she would find a way to address it,” said her daughter, Dr. Ashley Boggan, the top executive of the denomination’s General Commission on Archives and History.
That included starting children’s ministries, leading youth choirs and helping guide the music at weekly worship. And she was supportive of multiple forms of ministry and outreach, including (but not limited to) Beers and Hymns, Care Cuts and Souls for Souls.
Even before becoming a deacon, she started what was then the Little Rock Conference Choir Tour in 1991. She led what became the Arkansas Conference Tour through 2007, bringing together United Methodist teens from across the state for a week of travel and singing across the country. At one point, the tour performed for the Clintons in the White House Rose Garden.
“Rebecca was the consummate church music professional,” said Bishop Charles Crutchfield, now retired. “Above all, she loved great music that served to inspire worship. She always brought a gracious spirit, a glowing smile and a depth of faith to our work together. She was simply a wonderful colleague.”
The Rev. Wm. Christopher Cooper, now retired, worked with Rebecca Boggan when he was senior pastor at both Cornerstone and First Little Rock. “She was very talented and always a hard worker and a perfectionist when it came to music ministry,” he said.
She also took church youth under her wings.
Among those who benefited from her mentorship was the Rev. Jeanne Williams, now pastor of Oak Forest United Methodist Church and head of the Wesley Foundation campus ministry at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Like her friend and mentor, Williams is also part of a clergy couple.
“She taught me early in ministry how to handle the lows and highs, and how to balance — perhaps ‘integrate’ is a better term — work and home life,” Williams said. “Her gift of creative worship is something I will always strive to emulate.”
In addition to daughter Ashley, Rebecca Boggan is also survived by her daughter Emily and her husband, Dr. André Wineland, of Little Rock as well as four grandchildren.
A formal service will be held at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 22 at First United Methodist Church in downtown Little Rock. Livestreaming of the service will be available.