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Our Companion Parishes:
Standing Rock Episcopal Mission


We are pleased to announce a new Companion relationship with the Standing Rock Episcopal Mission in South Dakota, where our former interim pastor, the Rev’d Robert C. Schwarz, is now priest-in-charge.

A message from Fr Schwarz:

Almost all of the people of Standing Rock Episcopal Mission are Hunkpapa Lakota Sioux. Almost a hundred and fifty years ago Chief Gall invited the Episcopal Church onto Standing Rock, after much prayer at what is now the site of St. Elizabeth’s in Wakpala. He is buried in St. Elizabeth’s cemetery. St. Elizabeth’s is the mother church of the Mission, and was the home of St. Elizabeth’s School for over fifty years. There are six Episcopal churches on the South Dakota side of Standing Rock: St. Elizabeth’s, Wakpala; St. Peter’s, McLaughlin; St. Paul’s, Little Eagle; Good Shepherd, Little Oak Creek; St. John’s, Bull Head; and Holy Spirit, Firesteel Creek. Each of these is served by a layreader and administrator. Each church says Morning Prayer on those Sundays when a priest cannot celebrate Holy Eucharist. The reservations of South Dakota are among the poorest areas in the U.S., accounting for seven of the ten poorest counties in the country. Diabetes, alcoholism, drug abuse and cancer are epidemic. Recently we suffered an epidemic of suicides affecting five of our six churches. And yet our people are exceptionally generous and compassionate. They are devout and prayerful. They are exceptionally humorous and it is an honour for this priest to be unmercifully teased by them.

Churches of Standing Rock Episcopal Mission

More information about Standing Rock:
Map it.
Priest-in-Charge: The Rev’d Robert C. Schwarz
Contact address: 806 3rd Avenue West, Mobridge, SD 57601
Tel. +1 (605) 845 2182

We began our relationship on the Day of Pentecost 2009 by holding our new friends in Christ in prayer. In the coming weeks, months, and years, we expect that, by the grace of God, this relationship will grow and develop in ways that we can not yet imagine.

June 2009, Fr Schwarz writes:

Memorial Day on Standing Rock is always May 30th.  All the cemetaries are cleaned and mowed for that day, the people all gathera at their family graves, decorate them, and place offerings of oranges, soda, candy and cigarettes on them.  The priest offers prayers at the appointed time, and then an honor guard of veterans fires three volleys, plays taps, and raises the flags over the graves of veterans.  Then we all visit the graves and take oranges, etc.  I'm often requested to take something particular off of particular graves, or someone might say, "Young boys under eight, please gather here."  It is all very jovial and pleasant, with a lot of laughter and conversation.  We visit six cemetaries and two monuments each year.  We bring home about three bushels of oranges.

Please check back regularly for updates and news from Standing Rock.

Read more about our Companion parishes in the Autumn 2009 newsletter.