Sunday, 4 October 2020, is the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi! Meaning: This is the day when we usually offer the Blessing of the Pets. Because of COVID-19, we can’t do that, but we can bless your pets remotely! Thank you to all who have sent photos of their beloved creatures … we received photos from all over the country, and some internationally!!!

To see the video, go to the Rosebud Episcopal Mission Facebook page … until we can get WordPress and Facebook to realize that all the material in this video clearly belongs to us.

National write-up of our #VirtualMissionTrips!

Senior Warden Erroll Geboe poses with a newly installed sign at Trinity Episcopal Church in Mission, South Dakota, one of the projects featured in the Rev. Lauren Stanley’s “virtual mission trip” videos on Facebook.

Mission on South Dakota reservation maintains ties to volunteer teams with ‘virtual mission trips’

(You can view all of the Facebook videos on the Rosebud Episcopal Mission Facebook page.)

By David Paulsen

[Episcopal News Service] Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Webster Groves, Missouri, has sent mission teams to the Rosebud Episcopal Mission in South Dakota since the 1990s – to supply volunteer labor for construction and repair projects, but also to develop lasting personal relationships that bridge cultures, decades and hundreds of miles.

Then the coronavirus pandemic hit in March, disrupting the plans of Emmanuel and other churches that coordinate annual mission grips with the Rev. Lauren Stanley, presbyter for the west half of the Rosebud mission, which mostly overlaps the Rosebud Sioux Reservation.

With in-person trips canceled while COVID-19 remains a persistent threat, Stanley latched onto an alternative that maintains connection between the communities where she ministers and the congregations she would have been welcoming this summer: virtual mission trips.

“It’s a way to keep people in touch with us and to show that, yes, even though we don’t have mission teams here, we have work that’s ongoing,” Stanley said in an interview with Episcopal News Service.

The indigenous communities served by The Episcopal Church across the United States tend to have some of the country’s highest rates of poverty. Rosebud Sioux Reservation in Todd County, South Dakota, is no exception, with 55% of residents living below the poverty level, according to census data. Work is always waiting for mission trip volunteers, Stanley said.

A virtual mission trip may seem like an oxymoron. The trip is an essential component to these congregations’ missionary support for Rosebud, so how could that be accomplished online? Stanley emphasized that building relationships has been as important as completing building projects – if not more so. Starting this month, she began creating videos for the mission teams and sharing them on the Rosebud Episcopal Mission website and Facebook page.

It helps that most of those mission teams already have visited Rosebud before. The virtual mission trips are “still a work in progress,” Stanley said, “but these are people who have a strong tie to us. Or if they’re a new group, they have a strong interest in coming to the Rosebud and working with us.”

Trinity Episcopal Church, Mission, Rosebud Reservation, SD

Emmanuel has one of the longest records of missionary service with Rosebud, and church volunteer Donna Erickson has participated from the beginning, when she joined her oldest son on a youth group trip to the reservation in the early 1990s. The church later began sending adult mission teams, about 20 years ago.

“As we talked about the needs of the world and what we could realistically expect to do, it became really clear to many of us that what we wanted was a ministry of presence and relationships,” Erickson told ENS.

While helping to build and repair homes and churches, the volunteers from Missouri got to know the reservation’s residents, who then introduced the visitors to their extended families and sometimes even invited the Missouri Episcopalians back for graduations and funerals. In addition to the church’s mission trips each June, a small group from Emmanuel regularly returns in late August to attend the reservation’s annual fair.

This year, however, Erickson said she and other organizers knew early on that the pandemic could derail the mission trip. Indigenous communities are particularly vulnerable to virus outbreaks, and Rosebud was among the reservations in the spring that implemented lockdowns to slow its spread. State authorities report at least 50 COVID-19 cases among Rosebud residents, including one death.

Furthermore, many of the 20 or so people from Emmanuel who typically embark on the mission trips are older retirees and at higher risk of severe complications from COVID-19. In May, the church announced it was canceling the Rosebud trip.

Mission trip cancelations are part of a wave of disruptions across The Episcopal Church caused by the pandemic, which in mid-March forced the suspension of most in-person worship services. Some congregations have begun laying plans for resuming limited in-person services, though many domestic and international mission trips remain in limbo.

With trips to Rosebud Episcopal Mission canceled, some of that work simply won’t get done for now, Stanley said, but she and the mission’s congregations remain active in serving their neighbors. The virtual mission trips capture some of that activity, through the videos Stanley started sharing online last week.

“Those of you that have been here know that we have a lot of land to take care of,” Stanley said in her video for June 11, which includes footage of Danny Gangone and his son mowing grass at the Bishop Hare Center in Mission, South Dakota, a project delayed by repairs to the lawnmowers.

Delivering donated face masks to the White Buffalo Calf Woman Society.

In her videos, Stanley describes delivering cleaning supplies, a funeral for a deacon who died recently, painting and building repairs, installation of a new church sign and removal of a downed tree. Lately, she also has been assembling and distributing COVID-19 kits with face masks, hand sanitizer and other items. And when a surprise shipment of food arrived last week from a local charity partner, Stanley recruited volunteers to help sort it and take bundles to Rosebud families.

Stanley shoots the videos with her phone and edits them using iMovie, the results intentionally more personal than professional. Addressing the mission teams that had to cancel their trips, Stanley regularly identifies what those teams would have been doing, and she takes some time to explain aspects of Lakota culture. She plans to continue the videos through the summer, along the way acknowledging all who were unable to come in person this year. She typically hosts about 20 teams and up to 700 volunteers across the summer.

Stanley’s videos were received warmly by parishioners at Emmanuel Episcopal Church, Erickson said. “I think that it was good for them to see and be reminded and hear from her that she misses us and there would have been work for us to do,” she said, “even if it can’t fully convey the intensity of that experience or the emotional connection that I think we’re all missing.”

On her end, Erickson shared photos of past mission trips to the church’s Facebook page. The church also encouraged participants who normally would have paid $250 to cover food and gas during their van ride to South Dakota to donate that money directly to the Rosebud Episcopal Mission, to support Stanley’s work there.

Erickson said members of her congregation look forward to the day when they can return to the Rosebud Sioux Reservation in person. “To not have that was really a loss for several of us,” she said. “It’s such an integral part of our summer. … It’s been a blessing in many ways.”

– David Paulsen is an editor and reporter for Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at dpaulsen@episcopalchurch.org.

#REMCares Update

Since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, the Rosebud Episcopal Mission has been working hard to take care of the Oyate here on the Rosebud. We delivered more than 6,000 N95 face masks (the construction masks) to RST Law Enforcement, the Adult Corrections Facility, the Juvenile Detention Facility, the White River Nursing Home, and Todd County School District breakfast and lunch program, and then asked people around the country to make cloth face masks for us.

In the past several weeks, we have received and then delivered more than 200 cloth face masks to Community Health Representatives, which in turn took those masks out to the community.

Today, we were able to deliver another 600 cloth face masks, which came from partners across the country. Wopila tanka to Ellen Kentnor of Sonora, Arizona; to the Northern Colorado (NoCo) Mask Making Team and Laura Gurney; and to Dawn Jurgens of Pleasant Hill, Iowa, for these marvelous masks.

Together, we can take care of each other!

Delivering masks to CHR today in Rosebud!

A Message of Love from Erroll Geboe

A message of love from Rosebud Episcopal Mission Senior Catechist Erroll Geboe, who has been sharing videos of Lakota hymns that he has been playing for us.

Rosebud Episcopal Mission
Senior Catechist Erroll Geboe.

Dear Relatives:

It is my great honor to play these hymns for you as well as I can. A lot of them are hymns that I play by ear or from memory. Growing up in church, I heard and sang all these hymns, and I always admired the organists who played them.

I can remember most of the organists from my youth: Rebecca Quick Bear, from St. Matthews, Rapid City; my aunt Dorothy Lunderman, who played at many of our congregations here on the Rosebud; Lillian Chase, who mainly played at Church of Jesus, Rosebud, but who also played at other churches; Lorraine Herman, who was the organist at Trinity, Mission, for 40 years; and Isaac Cutt, who played – by ear – at Grace Chapel, Soldier Creek.

All these wonderful people have been my inspiration, which is how I picked it up. Often times I asked them for their guidance and help when I did not know what to do, or I could not remember a note. And then all of the sudden, the note comes and I get it.

Even today, I am thankful I can play these, because nowadays there are hardly any organists in our churches anymore.

I play these for you, and share my love for all of you through music.

I hope you enjoy these, and that they bring back memories as they do for me.

When I play at home, I can honestly still hear my mom, Margaret, humming along or even faintly singing in the background. So I must be doing something right, because my mother loved to sing the Lakota hymns. She was an alto and knew all the Lakota hymns. When we would ask her what her favorite hymn was, so that we could sing it with her, she would say, All of them. That is why I try to play so many for you.

I promise you, I will keep practicing and recording these hymns, because especially in this time of Coronavirus, this is how I share and show my love.

— Erroll

How to join our on-line worship services

4D8CBD5E-CC08-4131-8603-354F23412E4CIn March 2019, the Rosebud Episcopal Mission began broadcasting live Sunday worship services on the Facebook page of Mother Lauren R. Stanley. We started doing this because the weather that winter was simply brutal, and too many services were being canceled.

In 2020, coronavirus arrived, and forced the closure of in-person worship services, which we did out of an abundance of caution, and because we love one another. In order to provide more opportunities for worship, we began weeknight Compline services focused on hope and love. Those services were also on Mother Lauren’s Facebook page. After the services finish, Mother Lauren shared the services to the Rosebud Episcopal Mission page and to this website, rosebudepiscopalmission.org.

But that meant that those who do not have Facebook were not able to join the services live, and had to watch taped versions.

Beginning on Monday, 11 May 2020, the services migrated to the Rosebud Episcopal Mission Facebook, because that means that those who do not have a Facebook account can join us live.


Well, let us tell you!

In your web browser, put in this link:


When you click on this link, it will take you to the Rosebud Episcopal Mission Facebook page. Please know that you do not need to have a Facebook account. When this page comes up, it will prompt you to LOG IN. All you need to do is click NOT NOW. Then, on the left side of the page, click on VIDEOS. 

Then you will be able to join us live!

(We will still post the services after they are finished on Mother Lauren’s page as well as on this page under the #REMLive link, so if you miss the live service, you can always find it later on!)