Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Fr. John Roberts: Missionary to the Shoshone and Arapahos

Today the Episcopal Church remembers the life and ministry of John Roberts, a priest and missionary who was born in 1853 and died in 1949.  John Roberts was born in Dyserth, on the coast of North Wales. Roberts went to St David’s College, Lampeter, then affiliated with Oxford University, graduating with a bachelor's degree in 1876.  Roberts was ordained a deacon in 1878 at Lichfield Cathedral by the Rt. Rev. George Augustus Selwyn, and he was ordained priest by the Rt. Rev. Francis Cramer Roberts at Nassau. He served as chaplain of St. Matthew’s Cathedral, and he also ministered to the leper colonies. In 1880 he set out for New York and applied for his first preference of priestly work: ministering to the Native Americans of the United States. 
The University of Wyoming has this to say about Fr. Roberts: 
Assigned to minister to the Shoshone and Arapahos on the Wind River Reservation, he set about his work by learning all he could about Native American customs and beliefs, believing that by knowing the people he hoped to minister to he would be more effective. He also learned the native languages, eventually translating the gospel for his Native American congregates.
Roberts often said the object of his work among the Indians was to make them self supporting. With this in mind he established two schools, the Indian Boarding School at Ft. Washakie and the Shoshone Indian Mission Boarding School. Roberts cultivated friendships with tribal leaders, including Chief Black Coal and Chief Washakie, whom he later baptized. He earned the trust of the tribal leadership and was often involved in their negotiations with the agents of the federal government. The Indians rewarded Roberts for his fairness in dealing with them by giving him the name “Elder Brother.”
Roberts also ministered to the non-natives of the state, establishing Episcopal churches in towns across Wyoming. Roberts retired from active missionary work in 1921 but continued to live on the reservation until his death in 1949 at the age of ninety-seven.
Let us pray:  Creator God, we thank you for bringing your missionary John Roberts from his native land to live and teach your Gospel in a spirit of respect and amity among the Shoshone and Arapahoe peoples in their own language; and we pray that we also may share the Good News of your Christ with all we meet as friends brought together by your Holy Spirit; for you are one God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, living and true, to the ages of ages. Amen.
Mardi Gras celebration hosted by Tammie and Bill Taylor, Tuesday, 4 March at 6 p.m. in Sutton Hall at St. Augustine’s.
Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, 5 March at 6 p.m. with the Imposition of Ashes and Eucharist.
Please remember everyone on our Prayer List, especially Patricia, Pat and Karen.
Your servant in Christ,
Fr. Chester J. Makowski+
St. Augustine of Hippo Episcopal Church
Galveston, Texas 77550

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