Your Cathedral

Your Cathedral

Since 1904, St. Paul's Cathedral has served the community from the same location at the northeast corner of N.W. 7th and Robinson. Providing a spiritual heart to the Cathedral's neighbors in Downtown, Bricktown, Midtown and Uptown Oklahoma City, St. Paul's also serves as the Cathedral for the Diocese of Oklahoma.

There are 1100 parishioners at St. Paul's, some of whom drive long distances to attend one of three Sunday morning services. The Cathedral also offers a Holy Communion service at noon on Wednesdays attracting Episcopalians and others who work in the Downtown area.

A History of the Cathedral

The Cathedral’s history is one of enjoying booms, surviving busts and God always being faithful.

Since 1982 the Cathedral has expanded its campus, increased regular Sunday attendance and established an endowment. The Cathedral provides space for 12-Step meetings, community music programs and serves as a location for the opening ceremony of the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. parade.

The bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995, had a profound effect on the Cathedral as it was heavily damaged that day. Despite the tragedy of lost lives and property, St. Paul's stepped up immediately and became a triage site for rescue workers as well as providing a spiritual sanctuary for all seeking comfort and peace during that dark time.

In the early 1990's, the Cathedral purchased an adjacent junkyard and converted the lot into a child-friendly garden. As a reminder of the effect of the bombing on our community, the children of St. Paul's planted a Weeping Willow in the Cathedral Garden in memory of the children who were killed in the Murrah Building.

Eventually, St. Paul's purchased an old auto body shop adjacent to the Garden and built the Dean Back Administrative Building. A million dollar Garden renovation and Columbarium construction project was completed in the spring of 2011.

As it is, St. Paul’s abides as a sacred place on Earth and as a gateway to Heaven.

East Garden

As part of the restoration of St. Paul's in the aftermath of the bombing of the Murrah Building in April, 1995, the Cathedral was able to acquire additional property to the east of Dean Willey Hall. The Cathedral saw fit to create a outdoor still point fit for meditation, and absorbing joy in the quiet beauty of the natural world. The cloister holds within it a garden, a Labyrinth, an arbor, a pet memorial garden, and the Cathedral's Columbarium. The garden represents God's presence in the world throughout all seasons in our lives.

Who May Use the Garden?

Individuals are always welcome to enjoy the garden for rest and
reflection. Larger groups may use the garden upon permission and
scheduling through the Cathedral Office.

When Is the Garden Open?

The garden is open weekdays from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Access is
through the reception area located at the Cathedral's Main Office in
Dean Willey Hall. The garden is also open following Sunday services from
9:00 am. to 1:00 pm. Other hours are available upon request and with

The Columbarium

The Columbarium is a sacred space and is a resting place for many members of the Cathedral community and their loved ones. It is to be treated it with reverence. For more information about subscriptions to the Columbarium or to schedule memorial services, please contact the Main Office.

The Labyrinth

The Labyrinth is an ancient symbol of the spiritual journey. Parishioners are invited to walk the Labyrinth in prayerful reflection. There are helpful ways to walk the Labyrinth and guidelines and suggestions are available through the Main Office.

The Arbor

The Arbor is a symbol of the sheltering presence of God. It is a place for quiet conversation and rest.

The Pet Memorial Garden

In the northwest corner of the east garden lies The Rev. Canon Susan Joplin Pet Memorial Garden, a gathering place to remember all of the pets who have graced the lives of our Cathedral community through the generations. Following the annual Pet Memorial Service, it is prayerfully planted with spring-flowering bulbs as a reverent reminder that God's love extends to all creatures, great and small.

Oakerhater Chapel

Located in an alcove to the left of the chancel at St. Paul's Cathedral is the Oakerhater Chapel.

Dedicated Saturday, January 17, 2004, the Oakerhater Chapel is devoted to David Pendleton Oakerhater, a valiant Cheyenne warrior who later became an Episcopal deacon serving Indian Territory and later Oklahoma, from 1881-1931. Deacon Oakerhater was also a prisoner of war in the era of westward expansion.

During his 50 years of resolute service on his home reservation, the Cheyenne-Arapaho Reservation in western Oklahoma, the devout deacon was at times the single ordained presence in all of Indian Territory. The General Convention of the Episcopal Church added his name to its Calendar of Lesser Feasts and Fasts in 1985, the first American Indian to receive this recognition.

On the occasion of the dedication of the Chapel, the Very Reverend George Back, Cathedral dean, said, "We write into our cathedral walls a new history. In doing so we raise up a new love story in the midst of many old stories of abuse and disrespect suffered by American Indians."

A portrait of David Pendleton Oakerhater was painted and donated by Cherokee artist, America Meredith. The Oakerhater Window was designed by artist Preston Singletary. The ribs of the Chapel consist of the colors of the four directions.

Oakerhater Sunday

St. Paul's Cathedral celebrates and life and ministry of David Pendleton Oakerhater annually on the Sunday closest to his feast day, September 1st. On that day we decorate the Cathedral with Native shawls, flowers, and a buffalo robe covers the altar. Drummers and singers from the Caddo tribe lead us in and out of worship that day, those among us with Native heritage lead prayers to the four directions of the earth. It is a wonderful service and annual tribute of recognition.

Pipe Organ

Buzard Opus 20 | 28 straight-speaking stops 3 ranks across two manuals and pedal

When the Murrah Building was bombed in April, 1995, St. Paul's Cathedral was heavily damaged which included the total loss of the Cathedral's pipe organ. Recognizing the significance of the music program as a vital part of the church, St. Paul's leadership determined to replace the damaged pipe organ with a comparable (or better) one.

According to the Buzard website:

"The Cathedral's music program is top-flight, and includes committed Parish volunteers and paid singers; the music ranges from renaissance motets through the best modern Anglican anthems. The organ was completed ahead of schedule and used at Solemn Eucharist celebrated by the Presiding Bishop. During his sermon, he pointed to the new instrument as the final symbol of the Cathedral's resurrection from the bomb damage calling it, 'a symbol of the Cathedral being fully alive.'

"This was our first Cathedral organ. It was an awesome responsibility to capture the essence of the Anglican Tradition, and engrave it in wood and metal in this highly visible and vital outpost of the Anglican Communion. Into this place had to be build the quintessential Modern Anglican Organ."

John-Paul Buzard | Champaign, Illinois

St. Nicholas Chapel

The St. Nicholas Chapel, located in the Education Building, is used for St. Paul's mid-week Holy Communion, and the occasional small funeral or baptism. A lovely and quiet space, the Chapel features the stunning "Creation Window," six magnificent windows positioned in two triptychs. These modern stained-glass windows bring dazzling color and light to the wonder of God’s gift of creation. They were designed and fabricated by stained-glass artist Steve Wilson, of Baton Rouge, LA.

The Windows

The first window is called "Nebula" and features a multi-layered blue glass vortex above green and gold earth elements. The second window entitled, "St. Nicholas," features him with mitre and staff. Children, like the stars in the sky, gather in his presence. Known as "Thunderstorm," the third window reflects images from Native American creation accounts. "Spirit of Light" describes the artist’s expression of God’s creative presence through a Pentecost brightness of red light in the fourth window. The fifth window is called "Chi Sign" because of its primal symbol of the Chi ( Χ or χ ) for Christ. The "Moon and Spiral" as sixth window is known, contains both symbols gleaming with intensity and shedding their light and color on the Chapel altar.

St. Paul's is very proud of its elegant little chapel, and we welcome everyone to experience its unique spiritual qualities.

David Pendleton Oakerhater

One of St. Paul’s outreach programs is the Oakerhater Guild. This ministry continues the work begun by the Reverend David Pendelton Oakerhater to the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribe of Western Oklahoma. Rev. Oakerhater was the first Native American to be ordained in the Episcopal Church, to the order of deacons.

Oakerhater, or “Making Medicine”, was born circa 1847 in Western Oklahoma. He was a warrior, possibly involved in the Second Battle of Adobe Walls, and a spiritual leader. His name can also be transliterated as “Medicine Man.” He was imprisoned in St. Augustine, Florida, in 1875. While there,he was among those who developed “ledger art.”

Holy Man

Captain Pratt, the camp officer, saw Oakerhater’s leadership skills, and how his fellow prisoners respected him, and made Oakerhater a trustee. The former Cheyenne warrior led the prisoners in daily military drills, using dummy rifles.

In 1877, Mary Douglass Burnham, an Episcopal deaconess, made arrangements to sponsor the education of several prisoners, including Oakerhater. David was sponsored by Senator George Pendleton of Paris Hill, New York, and ultimately moved in with Rev. John B. Wicks, the rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Paris Hill. There, he received instruction in agriculture, Scripture, and current events.

He was baptized about six months later, in early 1878, and adopted the Christian name David, after King David of the Bible, and Pendleton, in honor of his sponsor.
He was ordained a deacon in July, 1881, and returned to western Oklahoma. He served near Anadarko for Sunday services, and spent weekdays visiting and caring for sick members of various tribes.

He began his work at Whirlwind Mission of the Holy Family in 1889, near Fay, Oklahoma, about 17 miles west of Watonga. He remained there until his retirement in 1918. Even in retirement, he continued to preach, and served as a Native American chief and holy man. He died in 1931, at the age of 84. He was named a Holy Person, or saint, in the Episcopal Church in 1985; his feast day is September 1.

A more detailed biography may be found at From Warrior to Saint, which includes letters written by David.


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