House of Deputies president presents award to family of Church Army pioneer

September 12, 2011

Episcopal Church House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson recently presented an award to the family of late Sister Margaret Hawk, a missionary and church leader, to honor her pioneering ministry posthumously.

The presentation came Sept. 10 during the Diocese of South Dakota's annual diocesan convention in Pierre. The President of the House of Deputies Award for Distinguished Service honors "individuals and communities who have exhibited an exceptional commitment to the work of reconciling a broken world," according to a press release.

Hawk was a native of Red Shirt, South Dakota, on the Pine Ridge Reservation of the Oglala Sioux. In 1963, at the age of 50, she joined the Church Army, a society of lay missionaries in the Anglican Communion. After training in New York and missionary work in Buffalo, New York, she returned home to the Pine Ridge and Rosebud reservations where she served for 18 years, the release said.

Anderson presented the award to Hawk's granddaughter Alice Testerman and her family. Anderson said she was especially struck by Hawk's commitment to seek training and education in New York, 1,700 miles from her home in South Dakota.

"She had other options," Anderson told the convention. "She could have said 'no.' She could have continued her work without any training. She could have decided that theology and Scripture and church history are for priests, not laypeople. But she didn't do any of those things. Instead, Sister Margaret answered God's call and went to New York to study."

In Pine Ridge, at Holy Cross Episcopal Mission, Hawk was involved in ecumenical ministry with Catholics and Presbyterians. The group started the Wowakakiye Center for Lakota people who needed counseling, childcare, food and other necessities. She also set up a shelter for abused women, was an advocate for day workers and tirelessly served the people of the congregation, according to the press release.

In 1970, when the Episcopal Church's General Convention allowed women to serve as deputies, Hawk was one of the first women seated.

In retirement, Hawk returned home to Red Shirt where she was active at Christ Episcopal Church. When she died in 1993, her nephew the Rev. Robert Two Bulls wrote that she had "served the Pine Ridge Episcopal Mission doing evangelism of hope, reaching out to people in despair and feeding the hungry," the release said.

Related Topics: