Today in the Episcopal Church we honor William Hobart Hare (May 17, 1838 – October 23, 1909) who was an American bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church, back when that’s what it was called.
One of the leading missionaries in America, Hare earned the title “the Apostle of the West” for his dedicated work in the rural Dakotas among pioneers and Native Americans. He was also known as the “Apostle to the Sioux.”
The house of bishops elected him bishop in 1872 and his territory originally included everything north of the Niobrara River in Nebraska and west of the Missouri River as far as the Rocky Mountains. It was not an easy assignment.
He wrote from Cheyenne Reserve to his sister: “I have been on a trip now for ten days or more, a fairly comfortable one, though a heavy storm of wind and rain blew my tent down over my head last Tuesday night and gave me hours of work and much wretchedness, and my horse balked in the middle of the Cheyenne River on Friday last as I was fording it, broke the single-tree loose and left me in the middle of the rapidly running stream with the water running into my wagon-box. But such ills are the concomitants of travel out here, and I am used to them.” (You can read more about his experiences here.)
The wilderness assigned to the young bishop seemed an almost unmanageable field, but he betook himself to tent life and traveled over the wild country and, having thus made himself familiar with it, he gradually divided it into ten departments and placed a clergyman of ability and fidelity in charge of each of these departments and the missionary work soon fell into shape and was carried on with comparative ease.
The development of South Dakota and its final admission to statehood led to a slight change in the territory assigned to his jurisdiction, and in 1883 his title was changed to missionary bishop of South Dakota, and he chose Sioux Falls as the see city of his missionary diocese. He has labored with all of zeal and earnestness and has infused vitality into all departments of church work in his diocese, while he has been aided and encouraged by the hearty and faithful co-operation of his clergy and his people. It has been his to watch the progress of the church in South Dakota from its inception, ever keeping pace with the onward march of the years as they have fallen into the abyss of time. He has guided the destinies of his church with a hand made strong by power from on high, and with the power which came to steady the hand has also come the divine light to illume the way… He has witnessed the rise of the state, where he has served as bishop for thirty-two years, is loyal to it and its people and has the sincere respect and affectionate regard of all with whom he has come in contact as a church man and as a citizen. (Doane Robinson 1904)
The Calvary Church was the first church built in Sioux Falls.
As Hare’s congregation grew, he saw the need for a building, “as solid and unmoving as his faith, to stand as the cornerstone for his congregation in the area’s biggest city.” Hobart enlisted the aid of John Jacob Astor III to help raise money for a cathedral. Astor’s contributions were in memory of his late wife, Charlotte Augusta Astor — a patron of Hare’s missions and of All Saint’s School, another Hare creation. Astor’s contributions came to $20,000. The cornerstone was laid Dec. 5, 1888, and Hare’s cathedral was finished a year later. The building itself was constructed of Sioux quartzite.
Bishop Hare, although he died in New Jersey, was buried in Sioux City next to the church under the large cross (below).
Holy God, you called your servant William Hobart Hare to proclaim the means of grace and the hope of glory to the peoples of the Great Plains: We give you thanks for the devotion of those who received the Good News gladly, and for the faithfulness of the generations who have succeeded them. Strengthen us with your Holy Spirit, that we may walk in their footsteps and lead many to faith in Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Oh and by the way, today is also Bob Saget’s birthday.
Have a good day. Tomorrow is Friday!