Monday, September 8, 2008

Diocese " will dispose of " nine Pine Ridge Reservation churches

The September '08 newsletter of St. Katharine's Church, Martin, SD, contains a report on The Pine Ridge Episcopal Mission Council meeting of August 31st.

The following is from that report.:

" two letters from Bishop Robertson regarding the Ministry on the Pine Ridge Mission. Both letters concern the viability and presence of the Episcopal Church on the Pine Ridge Mission and both offer an (sic) new and different vision for the ministry on the Mission...

'...Effective the first Sunday of Advent, November 30, 2008, the following actions will be implemented...

...The churches of Christ, Red Shirt Table; St. John's, Oglala; Epiphany, Wolf Creek; St. Andrew's, Wakpamni Lake; St. Thomas, Manderson; St. Barnabas, Kyle; St. Timothy's, Potato Creek; St. Alban's, Porcupine; and Inestimable Gift, Allen, will be closed and property disposed of according to Diocesan Policy.'"

Bishop Robertson and the Diocese faced a hard decision. I've blogged about the low attendance and lack of church cohesion on the Reservations. The Diocese is combining some congregations on the Pine Ridge and the nine that are closing had very low attendance. This is the kind of decision a diocese must make sometimes, and it is thankless and painful work.

That being said, a few questions need raising:

  • In April, Bishop Robertson himself stated that Episcopal Church budget cuts were costing South Dakota the financial means to support a Reservation Vicar (a missioner to a regional cluster of churches). The Episcopal Church is spending into the millions of dollars (although it won't answer requests for specifics) to sue Christians who dissent from TEC's departures from Biblical and traditional Christian faith. So, the question hangs in the air: Is the lawsuit policy of TEC's New York bureaucracy cutting out ministry to some of the poorest people in the United States? Are efforts to grab up suburban church buildings being subsidized by the "disposal" of Reservation churches?
  • We White folks tend to romanticize Native Americans, but they have plenty of common human foibles. Tribal/clan identities can fuel feuds and grudges. It has been known for some time that several Pine Ridge leaders (mostly Oglala Lakota) and the Bishop (who is Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota) have been squabbling or estranged (gee, sounds familiar). There are many struggling congregations in South Dakota - why did the Pine Ridge take the hit?
  • The rush to "dispose of property" does not pass the smell test. I've sat in plenty of clergy meetings here where priests argue for giving this or that piece of the state "back to the Lakota." Heck, that's probably right based on the treaty-breaking that snatched the land. But when push comes to shove, TEC is there to cannibalize property for its own use. No thought of, "Let's give this to the people of the Pine Ridge." Why don't "justice" and "Millennium Development Goals" apply to TEC property management decisions?

And of course the screaming issue is that TEC is closing more churches. TEC can't evangelize. TEC can't develop Christian communities. TEC is dying by attrition with no converts, no births and no intergenerational transmission of faith. TEC is getting rid of - even suing - the clergy and lay leaders who have the best track records in evangelism and congregational growth.

TEC's tale just gets shabbier and shabbier.


Anonymous said...

Father God,

Please move the hearts of Anglican bishops somewhere (from CCP, CANA, AMiA, the Southern Cone, Asia, Australia or elsewhere) in the Anglican Communion to reach out to the dispossessed Native American Anglicans.

I pray also for orthodox episcopal churches to find 'safe harbor' outside the stinking apostate excuse for 'bishops' that inhabit many of the dioceses in the US and Canada.

Thank you, Holy the Name of Jesus Christ. Amen

Anonymous said...

PS, Dear Lord, Please envelop Fr. Tim in YOUR Holy impermeable indestructible ARMOUR. Make him ready for any battle that lies ahead of him. Light his path, make his way plain. Thank you for his humble servant leadership in Your Church.
Thank you for his love of Your Word, Your Way, Truth, Life and Your Body.
Refresh and bless him and his family with ALL comfort, power and peace. In Jesus Name, amen.

TLF+ said...

Thanks for the prayers! Pray also for eyes to be opened to the deceptions perpetrated on the people here by the leaders of TEC.

Anonymous said...

We ought not assume we can shame the diocese and the denomination by bringing all of this to light. Liberals have a long history of hypocrisy, and seem all but un-shameable.

Rev. Brian Carpenter
Presbyterian Church in America (Sturgis)

TLF+ said...

Thanks for your comment, Brian - do see the latest news, posted on the blog today (11/26).

You are right about the "seared consciences" of those who consider themselves humanity's "betters", but outing this story has helped the Pine Ridge people in their stand by getting this "church matter" into the mainstream media. This public attention is having some impact, as today's diocesan statement backs off from "dispose of the property."

And sometimes (as pro-life witnesses know), you speak up for God's truth even when the world covers its ears.

Blessings on your ministry out there in the Hills!