On most Sundays a simple Eucharist is held in the Oakerhater Chapel located inside the Manse, the residence of the Director. We gather at 10:30 for coffee and fellowship. The liturgy begins around 10:45 with prayers, scripture readings, and communion which we call Eucharist.
We follow the Revised Common Lectionary with readings from the Old Testament, Psalm, New Testament, and Gospels. We engage in open discussion rather than a sermon. The Eucharist is the culmination of the liturgy. In it, we break bread and share wine in mystical participation in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. In this mystery we are united with Christ and each other. All are welcome at our table. The liturgy is followed by a shared meal.
This Chapel is named for Saint David Pendleton “Oakerhater,” a Cheyenne warrior who in 1875, was taken prisoner by the U.S. Army, and sent to a military prison in St. Augustine, Florida. While in prison, he became a follower of the way of Jesus and was baptized in 1878. He was ordained a deacon in the Episcopal Church and returned to his people near Watonga, Oklahoma in 1881. He told his people: “You all know me. You remember when I led you out to war, I went first, and what I told you was true. Now I have been away to the East and I have learned about another captain, the Lord Jesus Christ, and he is my leader. He goes first, and all he tells me is true. I come back to my people to tell you to go with me now in this new road, a war that makes all for peace.”
His ministry was well received and one of his first converts was the tribe’s chief, Whirlwind. Oakerhater helped his people through many painful years, often struggling against oppression 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 peace chief and “holy man,” preaching and performing baptisms, marriages, and funerals, and training lay readers. He continued the work of pastoral care among his people until his death on August 31, 1931.
Oakerhater was a man of reconciliation. We hope to be a place and a people of reconciliation too, where the traditions of Oakerhater’s people are honored. Here the convergence of Native, Celtic, Franciscan, and Eastern Christian spirituality is celebrated.
If Christianity had arrived in the Americas, not with violent force and imperial power, but with love and respect for the people and the land, the American Church might look more like this liturgy. That is our hope anyway, a liturgy that is authentic to this place.
The Chapel features a Pendleton Gatekeeper blanket featuring an eight point star; a common design among the Sioux. It represents the morning star, new beginnings, and the break of dawn. The altar is a large Cheyenne drum hand made by Malcom Whitebird of Watonga.
At St. Francis of the Woods all are welcome and the Eucharist is offered to all who seek communion with God.
Coffee @ 10:30 am
Liturgy @ 10:45 am
Potluck @ 12:00 pm