Some thirty thousand miles, one hundred plus feasts and pot-luck dinners (not to mention an additional ten pounds) and innumerable meetings later. A year has passed and, as the official documents state, we are now in ‘the second year of our consecration.’ A full year, a busy year, an exciting year, a painful year, a glorious year. Is the honeymoon over and are we still having fun now?
In the following review, I shall attempt to rehearse some of the more significant events of the past year in an attempt to evaluate where we have been as a Diocese and where we may be heading as we anticipate the 1986 Church year. In so doing, I shall designate those situations, issues or problems that were waiting to be addressed as “inherited situations”; versus new situations, issues or problems which will be termed ‘new directions”.
Because of the sheer amount of activity which has gone on, I am presenting this review in two parts, the second part to be published in the November ChurchNews.
A. Inherited situations New opportunities, persistent problems and ongoing issues are a part of any organization regardless of changes in organizational leadership. Much of my working agenda this past year was in response to work-waiting-to-be-addressed-by-the-new-bishop. This was hardly surprising or unique to this Diocese but essential, given the period of almost two years without a bishop.
I would quickly add, however, that the Diocesan Council, Standing Committee and other diocesan groups provided effective and responsible leadership during the interim period which made the transition to new leadership relatively smooth. My heartfelt gratitude to the various persons involved for providing continuity and stability during the interim period.
1. Budget review
One way to analyze an organization is to look at its budget to see how monies are spent in terms of priorities. In reviewing past budgets of the Diocese, I detected a somewhat alarming trend; budget cuts were made at the level of mission clergy support. Furthermore, support of diocesan institutions seemed both unique and somewhat high as a percent of total expenditures. These facts led to the following review and action:
2. Diocesan staff review
By eliminating the position of Archdeacon, we now have one of the lowest, if not the lowest, percentage of base budget support designated for diocesan staff. This has meant a reshuffling of duties within the staff and additional work for each staff member.
John Davis is now Diocesan Administrator, financial officer, property manager, clergy deployment officer and Church Pension and benefits officer.
Dewey Knowlton is our bookkeeper and accountant and helps with other duties in the office.
Ginny Slechta serves as my secretary and Commission on Ministry administrator as well as taking general office responsibilities.
Linda Nelson is our new receptionist and John Davis’ secretary. Given changes and additional work load, the staff has done an exceptional job this past year.
3. Review of institutions
Five of the six institutions of the Diocese were reviewed this past year by asking each institution two basic questions: What is your ministry? What is your mission? Major changes resulted in all five institutions.
Dakota Leadership Program was suspended as a joint North Dakota-South Dakota operation. The monies for salary and office are now being used to support ministry leadership programs within the Diocese as well as persons attending seminary.
All Saints School, as an incorporated entity, was dissolved and control was returned to the Diocese. All Saints School is in a transition period as it returns to its grounding in the Episcopal Church and adheres to criteria set forth by the National Association of Episcopal Schools. It will also be moving toward a unique curriculum more adequately reflecting the bi-cultural nature of the Diocese. Two problems continue to plague All Saints: enrollment and funding. 1985-86 will be a critical year for All Saints School in light of these two ongoing problems.
Saint Mary’s Episcopal School, formerly Saint Mary’s School for Indian Girls, is now a co-educational middle and upper school for boys and girls, regardless of race or religious background. Like All Saints, Saint Mary’s is in a period of transition in terms of new leadership and curriculum. It also faces a critical year in terms of enrollment and funding. This year we have 74 students enrolled versus an enrollment of 25 students in academic year 1984-85.
Bishop Hare Home, as administered by the Rosebud Mission Council, is currently working to organize a program with the White Buffalo Calf Woman’s Society and other interested groups to continue a shelter for victims of domestic violence on the Rosebud Reservation. The Church will have particular involvement in the areas of financial support, volunteer help, administration and pastoral counseling.
Saint Elizabeth Complex, Wakpala, is in the process of establishing a center and home for abused children, while continuing its present Foster Parent and Head Start programs. Funding and personnel are currently being sought to support this new and sorely needed ministry.
Thunderhead Episcopal Center has just finished a successful summer program and will be reviewed in 19S6.
Comment: The various institutional reviews this past year have exacted a great deal of time and energy- At times painful and controversial, periodic institutional reviews are needed both from the standpoint of ministry needs and stewardship.
Such reviews are made difficult by the very nature of institutions being self-perpetuating and resistant to change. Diocesan institutions are called to serve the ministry of the Diocese rather than being served by the Diocese.
While ongoing time, energy and support of our diocesan institutions to enable ministry will continue this next year, the most important changes have already begun.
4. Clergy deployment
Reversing a trend: In the past fifteen years fifteen full-time clergy positions have been lost. This past year, four of these fifteen positions were regained. They are: Fr. Darrell Ford at Wanblee, Fr. Joseph Bad Moccasin at Santee, Fr. Ralph Brown at Chamberlain and Fr. Patrick Genereux at Milbank.
Other new faces: Fr. Ron Hennies moved from Lead/Deadwood to St. Andrew’s, Rapid City and was replaced in Lead/Deadwood by Fr. Tom Hurley. Fr. Bob Bohyer came to the Rosebud, Fr. Ben Tyon became vicar of Holy Cross Church, Pine Ridge, Fr. Dan Makes Good became vicar of Inestimable Gift, Allen, Fr, Robert Utlaut became rector of Trinity, Watertown.
New salary policy: In the area of clergy compensation, the Diocese of South Dakota ranks 97 out of 97. Efforts to increase clergy compensation and bring us more in line with the rest of the Church have resulted in a new salary policy which will be considered at Diocesan Convention.
The new policy recognizes length of service, workload, education, diocesan involvement and competence as factors in establishing mission clergy salaries.
In addition, it is anticipated that an across the board increase will move the Diocese from 97th to 90th in compensation rankings for the next year.
Next month, I will review changes and progress; diocesan commissions and committees; and “middle management” (Regions), I will discuss new directions in funding, education, ecumenical relations, and leadership evaluation. I will conclude with comments on our fundamental grounding in prayer; and whether I think we are having fun now.