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South Dakota priests: Miles to go before they sleep

South Dakota priests: Miles to go before they sleep

Episcopal priests on the reservations in South Dakota hold Christmas services at churches that are miles apart. The Rev. Margaret Watson serves the Cheyenne River Episcopal Mission  Here is the schedule between December 22 and Christmas Day:

Friday, December 22–5-7pm
Christmas Winter Talk, Pageant and Dinner for our Younger Folk

Saturday, December 23
Home services in Iron Lightning & Bear Creek (call for details)

Sunday, December 24
West (Mountain Time)—
St. John’s, Eagle Butte–10am (morning prayer & Christmas dinner)
St. Peter’s, Thunder Butte—Noon
St. Andrew’s, Cherry Creek—4pm
St. Thomas, On the Tree—7pm
St. John’s, Eagle Butte—10pm
East (Central Time)—
St. Mary’s, Promise—1pm
Emmanuel, White Horse—4pm
Ascension, Blackfoot—7pm

Monday, December 25th
Medicine Wheel, Eagle Butte–10am

Episcopal News Service tells the story of the Revs. Lauren Stanley and Anne Henninger who serve the Rosebud Mission.

“On Dec. 24, she will preside at seven services in seven different churches over 14 hours, and at those services, she potentially will officiate at dozens of baptisms while putting 210 more miles on her Toyota RAV4.”

“She’s not expecting an emergency – the RAV4 has snow tires, after all – but she has a winter survival kit just in case. There’s not snow in the forecast for Christmas Eve, just clouds with a high of 28 and a stiff wind blowing from the west-northwest….

Her most important cargo will be the four bags of priestly gear, containing everything from vestments and bulletins to the bread and wine. Before leaving home, she also will fill up three Thermos containers with hot water for the baptisms. Henninger, who drives a Mercury Sable, travels with her own supply of hot water, which she transports to the churches in a Coleman jug. The hot water in the insulated containers will have cooled to the right temperature by the time it is poured over those little heads.

“Not all of them have running water or functioning bathrooms,” Henninger said of the mission churches.”

The Rev. Kim Fonder, who serves Episcopalians on the South Dakota side of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation scheduled himself for six services on Dec. 24, from 9 a.m. in Mobridge to 9 p.m. in Little Eagle.

South Dakota is 78,116 square miles, making it the 17th largest in the Union, it is about 383 miles long (east to west) and 237 miles wide (north to south)


Christmas Blessings abound from these dedicated priests and the congregations they serve.


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Robert Lawrence

What wonderful priests to deliver Christmas services to so many Native Americans. Makes me proud to be an Episcopalean.


Great article! I wish we could translate this energy and missional commitment thought the Church.

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