jump to navigation

Indians quit US church: CEN 3.20.09 p 9. March 23, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Secession, South Dakota.
comments closed
Members of nine congregations closed last year on a Sioux Indian reservation have quit the Diocese of South Dakota and formed the Lakota Oyate Episcopalian Church.

On March 14, the clergy and members of the nine redundant rural churches created the new group, which they say will not be affiliated with either the Episcopal Church or its rival Anglican Church in North America, to oversee the reservation churches.

Speaking to the Rapid City Journal, Lori Ann Two Bulls said the group has petitioned the tribe’s Land Committee to transfer ownership rights to the church properties from the diocese to the Lakota Oyate Episcopalian Church. It asked the tribal council to allow it to “continue operating the churches expelled by The Episcopal diocese,” she explained.

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

Episcopalians launch legal action over deconsecrations: CEN 12.09.08 December 9, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, South Dakota.
comments closed
Episcopalians on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota have filed a lawsuit against the diocese and Bishop Creighton Robertson, asking the Oglala Sioux tribal court to block plans to deconsecrate surplus churches and cemeteries.

On Nov 22 a writ was served against the diocese seeking an emergency stay halting the closure of nine of the 16 churches on the reservation slated for the first Sunday in Advent. Last Monday the executive committee of the Sioux tribal council also called upon the diocese to turn over the properties to the tribe, should it shutter the buildings.

Writing in his diocesan newspaper, Bishop Robertson defended the closures saying “this is not an ‘Indian War’,” but “a responsible review of property and use of resources entrusted” to us.

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

Episcopalians launch legal action over deconsecrations

Indians threaten action on bishop: CEN 10.31.08 p 6. November 1, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, South Dakota.
comments closed

Parishioners from nine churches on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation have vowed to take legal action against the Bishop of South Dakota to prevent the closure of their churches, in a diocesan cost savings drive.

In his convention address to the diocesan synod on Oct 3, Bishop Creighton Robertson reported that dwindling attendance and finances had left him no choice but to close or consolidation the congregations effective Nov 30. However, on Oct 25 members of the redundant churches held an organizational meeting to gather signatures for a petition drive to halt the closings.

In an August letter to the clergy of the congregations located on the Pine Ridge Reservation-home to members of the Oglala Sioux tribe— Bishop Robertson wrote “I’ve decided that some things need to change, particularly concerning the number of churches on the Pine Ridge Episcopal Mission, and that some need to be closed, some moved to mission status, and some to remain open as active worship centers.”

In a second letter to the rural dean of the area, Bishop Robertson stated that financial contributions and attendance had declined over the past 20 years. The congregations had also developed an entitlement mentality as “there was also a belief that if only someone would come and take care of us, things would be as they were in the early days,” he said.

The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation is the poorest area in the United States. Life expectancy is estimated at between 47 to 56 years, (the nation’s lowest), while the infant mortality rate is twice the national average. It is estimated that approximately half of the reservation’s 28,000 residents suffer from diabetes, while some 80 percent of the adult population are alcoholics.

The sale of liquor is banned on the Reservation, but in the neighboring town of White Clay, Nebraska (population 22)—across the state line, the Washington Post in 2004 reported that the town’s three liquor stores sell an average of 11,000 cans of beer a day to Indians from the reservation.

The Oglala Sioux congregations were not sufficiently contributing to the upkeep of their churches, the bishop argued, “when something was needed — money, housing, propane, electricity — the diocese was reminded that it was our property and that we needed to take care of it — pay for propane, electricity, provide money and upkeep of the buildings,” the bishop wrote according to a report released by the Episcopal News Service.

Writing to the bishop in September, members of Christ Church, Red Shirt, reminded him that since his consecration in 1994, the bishop had never “crossed the threshold” of the parish. They urged the bishop, himself a Native American Indian, not to use church attendance as an “accurate measure of success in Indian ministry.”

“Indian ministry in the Episcopal Church is a uniquely rich and challenging arena understood by a very few in the Episcopal Church, clergy and laity combined,” stated the members of Christ Church according to ENS. “Abandoning the challenge at this point would only result in deepened pain and suffering. It will be experienced by our people as yet another act of racism and sin.”

The closure of the nine congregations “boggles the mind,” said Lorri Ann Two Bulls, the vicar’s daughter at Christ Church, Red Shirt. She told the Rapid City Journal the losses were spiritual and historical. St. John’s Church in Pine Ridge served as a hospital during the Wounded Knee Massacre in 1890. “The blood of the people who died there are still in the floorboards of that church,” she said.