Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Niobrara Cross, and other examples of the missionary heritage on the Northern Plains

The Diocese of South Dakota site has this good summary of the sign given to those who are Confirmed in South Dakota:

Certificates of Baptism and Confirmation meant nothing to Indian converts who could not read. Bishop Hare desired to give to those who took upon themselves obligations as Christians some token that would not only mark them as communicants, but also serve as a constant reminder to them of their Christian calling. He therefore in 1874 designed a cross to serve this purpose.

The oval in the center is his episcopal seal. Around its margin in Latin is inscribed “The Seal of William Hobart Hare, by the grace of God Bishop of Niobrara.” The Greek letters on the cross, which quarters the oval read, “That they may have life.” In each angle of the cross is a tipi surmounted by a small cross. The seal signifies that Christ has come to the Dakotas and gathered them under the protection of the cross, that they have accepted him, and their homes have become Christian homes.

In June 1975, the Niobrara Deanery, by action of the one hundred and third annual Convocation, “in an expression of oneness of God’s family and the love of Christ in His Church,” voted to share with the whole church in the diocese the Niobrara Cross. The fifth annual convention of the Diocese of South Dakota resolved, in October 1975, that it “exhibit the same love and desire for unity by accepting both this Niobrara Cross and the Christian love this gift represents with thanksgiving.”

Please visit our Northern Plains Anglicans Facebook page (link at upper right of this blog). We will have several posts there about the missionary efforts in Minnesota and other places around the region. As I told a Catholic friend recently, "Episcopalians have no mechanism for telling a priest to go here or there. The missionary bishops, priests, deacons and lay people who built our churches in fly-over country chose to come here, giving up many of the perks and resources of 'normal' Episcopal Church life."

No comments: