Mitakuyapi, we are living in strange and frightening times. The threat that has enveloped nearly the whole world – Coronavirus – is changing everything in our lives. Schools and work are shut down; unemployment has skyrocketed; and all of us are under threat from an unseen enemy that is sickening and killing thousands every day.
Because of the health risks, all of our churches on the Rosebud Episcopal Mission on the Rosebud Reservation here in South Dakota have suspended in-person worship and our regular programs, including GLORY, TeenGLORY, and confirmation classes, on both the East and West sides of the Rosebud Reservation. We are not doing baptisms at this time, or weddings.
We also have special rules now, worked out with Holmes Funeral Home and the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, for funerals:
• We are recommending strongly that there be no public wakes. Any gathering must be limited to no more than 10 people, including the religious leader. If a family wants to have a wake, it should be done in the home, with only the family members present. If there are more than 10 family members, families will have to rotate people in and out of the room. Families need to make sure they have cleaning supplies and hand-washing facilities to ensure we do not unintentionally spread Coronavirus.
• Funerals should be conducted at the graveside. We can do the entire funeral liturgy at the cemetery. Again, only 10 people will be allowed to attend, including the religious leader. This means that each family will have to decide who can do the actual burial. If a family needs to have the Church provide workers to actually do the burial, we can arrange for that. Those workers would not be present at the funeral service; they will stay outside the cemetery and wait until the prayers are finished. The families can then go to their cars while the workers do the burial. Families can then return — with no more than 10 people — to decorate the grave. Please know that if families are not willing to follow these rules, we will not be able to do the services, and Holmes Funeral Home will not be able to help with the funeral.
• We are recommending strongly that there be no feasts at this time.
• We promise that once the danger has passed, we will be willing to do memorials, feasts, and giveaways as soon as families wish them to happen.
To reiterate, we are doing all of this because we love each other too much to possibly infect anyone with this disease. But … just because the physical churches are shut down does not mean that we are still Church – loving God and our neighbors as best we can as much as we can.
We want to do everything we possibly can to provide hope and love to the people. Many of us are volunteering to help deliver food, to say prayers, to contact those who are alone, to provide supplies when possible. We are striving to bring the Gifts of God to the People of God.
With this in mind, we have begun several new efforts to help all of us get through these hard times:
• Each weeknight at 9 p.m. Central, we are offering the service of Compline – nighttime prayers intended to bring us peace and help us rest. You can join us live on #REMLive on Facebook on the Rev. Dr. Lauren R. Stanley’s page (https/facebook.com/lauren.r.stanley.5). After the service is finished, it is posted on the Rosebud Episcopal Mission Facebook page, as well as on this web site, on the #REMLive page.
• Each Sunday morning, we offer #REMLive Sunday morning worship at 8:30 a.m. Central on Mother Lauren’s page (see link above). Again, once the service is finished, it is posted on the Rosebud Episcopal Mission Facebook page, and on this website on the #REMLive page.
• As long as we are able, we are offering #ChurchOnTheGo at various locations, both on Sundays and throughout the week. On Sundays, you can come to Trinity Episcopal Church in Mission from 11 a.m. – 12 p.m. to receive prayers and Communion. (We ask that you drive up in your car, and step out individually for this. We shall maintain #HolySpacing – 6 feet between us – and you will receive your communion bread in a safe manner. Once you have finished praying, please return to your car so that the next person may come forward.) We usually then offer Communion on Sundays from 1 – 2 p.m. at Holy Innocents Episcopal Church in Parmelee. For the other congregations and communities we serve, Mother Lauren will make arrangements with the members to bring communion to them.
• Palm Sunday, Holy Week and Easter: We will be blessing the palms on Palm Sunday at Trinity, Mission, and making them available to anyone who wants them that day and throughout the week. You can pick up the palms at #ChurchOnTheGo, or ask that they be brought to your house. We will attempt to do #REMLive services for Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, the Great Vigil of Easter and Easter itself. Please watch Mother Lauren’s Facebook page and the Rosebud Episcopal Mission Facebook page for announcements on all of these services.
• Our #FirewoodfortheElders program is continuing through this time. Danny Gangone and Bruce Crow Eagle work every single day to find wood, cut it, haul it, split it, load it and deliver it to your houses. If you need firewood, please contact Mother Lauren at 605-828-3892. Again, we will continue this service as long as we can during this crisis.
• We are participating in the distribution of food from the Todd County School District to children on the Rosebud. Most of our volunteers drive the food to community centers; others help distribute it to their own communities.
• We are assisting elders all over the Rosebud, whenever possible with cleaning supplies. If you need cleaning supplies, contact Mother Lauren.
• We are assisting Buche Foods with its special program for elders and those who have health concerns, delivering the meals in Mission. Call Buches to place your order and pay for it, and one of us will deliver it to you.
There may be more that we are called to do, and we hope to be able to answer each call to the best of our abilities. We are here to serve. If you need us, call us.
Know that we are all in this together, even though we are separated by shelter-in-place and curfew rules. Know that we are not alone – that God is with us, and that God will help us through these hard times. Know that when the threat has passed, we will re-open our churches, and invite everyone to participate in the glorious celebration that will come.
Join us in keeping the faith, and in prayers for safety and health for all of God’s beloved children.