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Among the difficult issues he will be facing, he said, are social conditions at some of the 60 Episcopal congregations in the diocese located on Indian reservations. "At one, the suicide rate is epidemic and the church has to be a beacon of hope in those situations," said Tarrant, who is not from a native background.
One of his priorities, Tarrant said, will be to visit the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, where the current bishop, Creighton Robertson, last year closed nine churches, citing declining contributions and attendance.
Tarrant, who has served in Pierre since 2005, also noted that other issues include effects of the current recession and isolation that many clergy feel in sparsely populated areas.