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Communion Set

White missionaries began arriving in the area that would later become known as Kansas in the 1830s.  They brought along objects associated with their Christian faith, such as this communion set.

Missionaries came to Indian Territory representing Christian denominations. Baptists, Catholics, Methodists, and Presbyterians each had their own missions in the area and were sponsored by congregations and supporters in the East.

Delaware Indian Mission communion set

Manual Training Schools

Missionaries, often with their families, settled on or near tribal lands and set about constructing and furnishing eastern-style buildings to house, educate, and spiritualize American Indians. This process took the form of schooling and manual training, teaching English to both children and adults, and introducing the tribes to Christianity. Some welcomed the missionaries while others did not.

In order to become Christians and convert to the white way of life, missionaries insisted that the Indians eat, dress, work, speak and worship as white persons. This process meant taking part in rituals specific to the missionaries' beliefs. This three-piece communion set (tankard, chalice, plate) was used at the Delaware Baptist Indian mission from the 1830s through the late 1860s. The globe was used in the classrooms to instruct Indian children.

Delaware  Indian Mission classroom globeDelaware Baptist Mission

Around 1836, a newly-ordained Baptist pastor from Massachusetts, the Reverend John Gill Pratt, was employed by the Baptist Missionary Society to work in the Indian Territory. After assisting at another nearby mission, he was given charge of the Delaware Baptist Mission in 1847. The mission was located in present Wyandotte County, near the town of Edwardsville. The original mission building was destroyed by flood waters around 1844. Logs from the original building were used to build a replacement structure farther inland around 1848.

Pratt used the communion set until about 1864, at which time he became a United States Indian agent to the Delawares. He served in this capacity until around 1868, when most of the Delaware Indians moved to Indian Territory (present day Oklahoma). After the Delaware Baptist Mission was abandoned, the mission buildings began to fall into ruin and are no longer standing.

Two surviving missions are open to the public as State Historic Sites administered by the Kansas Historical Society:

The globe and communion set were donated in 1907 by descendants of the Reverend Pratt, and are displayed in the main gallery of the Kansas Museum of History along with a bookcase made by his pupils.

Entry: Communion Set

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: November 1999

Date Modified: February 2017

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.