An Article on some of John Roberts’ Ministry

John Roberts was born on March 31, 1853, in Wales. His interest was serving the church in the missionary field, and he was sent to Nassau in the Bahama Islands. It was there that he was ordained to the priesthood. However, Roberts yearned for a greater challenge. His opportunity came when he met Episcopal Bishop John F. Spalding who served Colorado and Wyoming. Spalding assigned him to work with the Shoshone in Wyoming.

Roberts’s trip there was a memorable one. He took the train to Green River and then traveled the last 150 miles by stage. . This journey came in the midst of a blizzard with temperatures nearing 60 degrees below zero. The journey took eight days; on February 10, 1883, he finally arrived at his new home. While serving in the Bahamas, Roberts had become engaged to a young church organist named Laura Brown. They kept up their relationship by exchanging letters until she was able to come to Wyoming. She arrived by train in Rawlins on December 24, 1884. Roberts met her there. They were married on Christmas Day at Saint Thomas Episcopal Church. They would raise five children during their years together.

At Fort Washakie, on the reservation, Roberts quickly went to work serving the people. He became the first superintendent of the government school. School attendance was compulsory for Indian children. Many attended against their will. In 1885, Roberts established The Church of the Redeemer that would serve the Shoshone people and other area residents.

The reservation wasn’t the only place where an Episcopal presence was needed. Roberts proceeded to organize congregations in Lander, Dubois, Crowheart, Riverton, Thermopolis, Milford, Hudson and Shoshoni. All but the latter three have active congregations at the present time. “Father Roberts,” as he became known, spent countless hours visiting those fledgling churches, traveling by horseback in all kinds of weather. He officiated at numerous baptisms, communion services, weddings and burials.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Church History