Group hires advocate to halt Episcopal Church closings
Bishop Creighton L. Robertson, IX Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of South Dakota informed local clergy last month of a decision to close nine churches across the Pine Ridge reservation. Reasons cited were lack of attendance and financial constraints.
After Nov. 30 the churches of Holy Cross, Pine Ridge; Mediator of Kyle; St. Michael's of Batesland; and Gethsemane of Wanblee; and St. Katherine's of Martin will remain open and be the major centers for worship. The churches of Advent of Calico; St. Julia's of Porcupine; will be moved to station status in the Diocese. The churches of Christ of Red Shirt Table; St. John's of Oglala; Epiphany of Wolf Creek; St. Andrew's of Wakpamni Lake; St. Thomas's of Manderson; St. Barnabus of Kyle; St. Timothy's of Potato Creek; St. Alban's of Porcupine and Inestimable Gift of Allen will be closed and property disposed of according to Diocesan policy.
At the Sept. 20 meeting in Kyle, people spoke of the need to keep the churches open and voted as a group to hire Lay Advocate Marwin Smith, to file an injunction to the diocese to stop the church closings. Rev. Charles Montileaux, a former minister and currently works for Oglala Sioux Tribal courts, said the advocate was asked to represent the group and to what was necessary to pursue the group's appeal of the decision.
Montileaux said in attendance at the meeting were nine elderly who spoke of their concerns of the closures. The next meeting is planned for Saturday, Oct. 25 at noon at the Inestimable Gift church, west of Allen.
The public is invited to attend the meeting.
Smith who will be representing the group said an injunction will be filed against the diocese in tribal court since all the land involved is trust land. The injunction is to halt the closing of the churches and halt disposition of any land and buildings that are affected. Thirdly, all those involved can come to a settlement that will be satisfactory to both parties. Smith said it is an emotional issue for people and will take time to understand what is happening and what positive can come out of it. It is a give and take situation, Smith said.