St. George's Episcopal Church

St. George's Episcopal Church | Growing in Christ's Love and Service | 5520 Far Hills Avenue, Dayton Ohio  45429 | 937-434-1781
David Oakerhater Window David Oakerhater Window

Anglican missions among native North Americans date from the original English settlement at Jamestown, Virginia, but began in earnest at the beginning of the 18th century.  As with all else Anglican, the effort was greatly affected by the American Revolution.  Yet, a remnant of ministry continued until the late 1850’s, when the work began to grow again on the western frontier. 

Oakerhater was a Cheyenne Indian, born on the high plains.  As a young man he distinguished himself as part of an elite warrior society that fought against the U.S. government in disputes over land rights, but he was eventually captured and sent to prison in Florida.  While he was there, he became a Christian through the influence of the lieutenant who ran the prison and the visits of a woman named Alice Pendleton (an Episcopalian, and a daughter of Francis Scott Key).  He subsequently became a deacon and returned to Oklahoma, as one of the first Christian missionaries in Indian Territory.  Oakerhater was legendary among his own people, and held a place of prominence in his tribe.  His preaching was well received among the Cheyenne, and one of his first converts was the tribe’s chief, Whirlwind.  Oakerhater helped his people through many painful years, often struggling against resistance from the government and apathy in the larger Church; yet, his faithfulness never wavered.  Even when he retired, he continued to serve as a Cheyenne peach chief and “holy man,” preaching and performing baptisms, marriages, and funerals, and training lay readers t continue the work.  By the time he died in 1931, he had faithfully served the Indians in his charge for over 50 years.  Oakerhater was not replaced, and for more than 30 years, his post was unattended.  Then, in the early 1960’s, a family of Episcopalians moved to the area of the old mission (near Watonga, Oklahoma).  Finding no Episcopal presence, they ran an ad in a local paper, announcing a meeting at their home.  More than 30 Cheyenne, who had been taught by Oakerhater or his lay readers, attended.  Together they revived the old mission, which is still in operation today. 

David Oakerhater brings a Native American presence to our windows.  The headdress represents his place as a Cheyenne warrior and chief.  His deacon’s stole, Bible, and cross emphasize his new role as “God’s Warrior,” bringing the message of Christ’s love and peace.”

 Like Stars Appearing:  The Story of the Stained Glass Windows of St. George's Episcopal Church, Dayton, Ohio
copyright 2004 by Anne E. Rowland.  All rights reserved.
Stained Glass Windows copyright 2000 by St. George's Episcopal Church, crafted by Willet Stained Glass.

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