It is rare for an Episcopal Church to claim a Saint for a patron when that person has been alive in the parish’s lifetime. Saint David Pendleton Oakerhater walked in our nave, was baptized in our font and knelt at our altar to be ordained deacon.
Saint Oakerhater was a warrior and leader of the Cheyenne Indians of Oklahoma and led a corps of fighters against the United States government in a dispute over Indian land rights. In 1875, he and 27 other military leaders were taken prisoner by the U.S. Army and sent to a military post in Florida. There, they learned English, earned money by giving art and archery lessons to visitors and received their introduction to the Christian faith.
David and several others were moved to become Christians and to go north to study for the ministry. David was baptized in Syracuse in 1878 and ordained to the diaconate in 1881. He returned to Oklahoma, established schools and missions there and continued to work among his people until his death on August 31, 1931.
David Pendleton Oakerhater was elevated to sainthood in 1985. In 1992, Grace Church was designated as the national shrine to Saint Oakerhater, the first Native American Episcopal saint.
At Grace, it is our custom to commemorate St. Oakerhater on the Sunday closest to his feast day, September 1.
To learn more about Saint Oakerhater, click here.