Presiding Bishop urges North Dakota governor, sheriff ‘to monitor the nature and tone of the policing actions’ on Standing Rock

Posted Dec 2, 2016

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The following is a letter sent  Nov. 30 by Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry to North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple and Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier concerning the situation at the Standing Rock Sioux Nation.

November 30, 2016

Dear Governor Dalrymple and Sheriff Kirchmeier:

I pray that this letter finds you well, and I want to assure you of my prayers. It has been my privilege to visit and learn firsthand about the Standing Rock Sioux Nation and the Dakota Access Pipeline, and I appreciate the complexity of the conflict you currently manage.

The Episcopal Church is grateful to stand with the people of Standing Rock in their efforts to respect and protect the Missouri River and the sacred burial grounds of the Sioux Nation. We do so seeking to follow the way of Jesus of Nazareth who taught us that love of God and love of our neighbor is the highest moral law and religious duty (Matthew 22:37-40, Luke 10:25-37).

Hundreds of Episcopal clergy and lay leaders have traveled with other people of faith to Standing Rock over the past several months to bear non-violent witness to the water-protection efforts underway near Sacred Stone Camp. Reports from the ground from our own members present alarming accounts of undue force used by law enforcement against the water protectors.

Given the November 25 notice from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as well as Governor Dalrymple’s November 28 executive order, I urge you to monitor the nature and tone of the policing actions by local and state law enforcement, the National Guard, and private contractors. I also ask that you take action to address and stop the use of water cannons and rubber bullets, as well as the use of military equipment that escalates tensions between the parties. I am deeply concerned about the number of protectors who have been injured, and the potential loss of life that could result from the continued use of these tactics.

A delegation of approximately 30 chaplains trained to assist people experiencing trauma will be standing with the water protectors in the coming days, especially as veterans also gather this weekend to stand with Standing Rock. These religious chaplains are called to care for those who are wounded, traumatized, or seeking spiritual support; they have pledged not to participate in demonstration activities. As they carry out their work, I ask that you safeguard them, ensuring that they meet no harm or violence as they seek to bring healing to all those gathered at Standing Rock.

I close once again asking your patience, attention and respect for the people and communities in your care. Please trust that we will keep you in our prayers moving forward. If our church may be of assistance in the creation of a peaceful and just way forward, I would welcome that invitation.

The Most Reverend Michael B. Curry
Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church


Comments (42)

  1. Donna Jerome says:

    Unfortunately, Really seems like the Episcopal Church is becoming a political lobbying organization.

    1. Brenda Harris says:

      Fortunately I see a broad base of love that has come from the church to help assist those in need. We will help them maintain their optimal health and will help with their spiritual needs. They are as much God’s people as we are, and we will not leave them to suffering. We do stand with them and will help them.

      1. Elizabeth Cox says:

        Totally agreed!

    2. Catherine Cheek says:

      The Episcopal Church is carrying out the teachings of our Lord, Jesus Christ, to love and seek justice. If that is lobbying, I support it.

      1. Pat Roy says:


    3. Susan Virginia Mead says:

      If Jesus wasn’t the best role model for standing (praying, being willing to die in the nonviolent fight) against the abuse of power, I don’t who who was, is, and ever shall be.

    4. Melissa L. Smith, PhD says:

      Doing what Jesus did, speaking up for the disenfranchised among us.

    5. Christine Draughon Wantland says:

      The Church has always stood for justice and the oppressed. This shouldn’t be news to those who pay attention to those readings on Sunday

    6. Jon Spangler says:

      Not at all. Just trying to heal the earth and its people and to make peace, just as The Founder and Creator commanded…

    7. The Rev Dr Kenneth King says:

      Then you don’t know the Episcopal Church as well as you thought you did. We carry the Gospel of Christ into this broken and troubled world–supporting peace, love, & reconciliation between all people. I hope you will join us in this action because it is the only action that will bring us back together.

    8. Will Smith, MS says:

      Donna Jerome, In the Book of Common Prayer, pp. 304-305, the Baptismal Covenant has the Celebrant asking several questions… Celebrant:Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?People:I will, with God’s help.Celebrant:Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?People:I will, with God’s help.

      Striving for justice and peace among all people, and respecting the dignity of EVERY human being, often has political and lobbying implications for the Church…and in this case it is necessary to protect our native people’s rights and privileges in protecting sacred tribal lands…I was ordained to the priesthood in the tribal church of the sovereign nation of the Onieda, the Church of the Holy Apostles and was honored to be there for several in Wisconsin, which once had 100 tribes of First Peoples, now we have less than 12. …so the Episcopal does need to stand up and be heard! Richest blessings.

    9. Regina Hogarth says:

      Just trying to do the work of Jesus

    10. C. Daniels says:

      Yeah, because asking for peace and respect is just another form of lobbying…NOT!

    11. Barbara Cavin says:

      In a way, yes. This what the Gospel is all about – lobby on behalf of those who live at the mercy of others who value money over people

    12. Nancy Mott says:

      PB Curry is clear in his expressions of caring and prayer for persons of all sides AS PERSONS.

    13. Jim Prevatt says:

      Why do you say “unfortunately”?

    14. Cynthia Bloomquist says:

      The Episcopal Church has alays supported the Christian value of nonviolaence. And support of the disdnfranchised. The first Episcopal Bishop in Minnesota two centuries ago, worked as a partner with the Chippewa. The MN Episcopal flag is a broken tomahawk and a cross combined. At devout ceremonies like the induction of Bishops, there are always drumming circles. So we have not become political suddenly. In the 60s and 70s we provided sanctuary for frightened immigrants. It’s appropriate, in my view of Christianity, to protect the peaceful, the wesk, the infirm, those in prison. And to be witnesses and counselors in times of trauma. After 9/11 our priests ran to the Towers, and died in them saving others, and became the safe space for the first responsders for the months afterwards. Christianity is not a passive thing. Episcoopal Community Services is always on the front lines.

    15. Andrea Harwood-Jones says:

      Proud to be Anglican!

  2. Kate Rose says:

    Thank you Bishop, chaplain and water protectors.

  3. Elaine Wilson-Reddy says:

    Thank you, Presiding Bishop Curry for asking for the monitoring and safety of the water protectors, the veteran protectors, and the chaplains. You are our role model in living the Jesus Movement. “Surely as you did it to one of the least of these, you did it to me.”

  4. Ronald Davin says:

    Why don’t hundreds of Episcopal clergy travel to Tennessee to help the people burned out of their homes, and do something useful instead of watching the tone of the police ? By the way, was it the police or protesters who burned the construction trucks and did we monitor the tone of those who destroyed these vehicles ?

    1. Catherine Cheek says:

      That is being done. It was mentioned in church last week.

      1. Nancy Mott says:

        PB Curry is clear in his expressions of caring and prayer for persons of all sides AS PERSONS.

    2. Jon Spangler says:

      @Ronald Davin, The Church always goes where it is needed. I never read anything that said the Episcopal Church supported violence, but crimes against property are faR less serious than crimes against people, such as the ND law enforcement officers spraying peaceful (nonviolent) demonstrators with water cannons–at night–in freezing weather. Do you support abusive law enforcement? I do not…

      1. Ronald Davin says:

        Do you support those aligned with the pipeline protests who defaced Washington’s World War 2 Memorial ? That crime against property went right against the core values
        of many of us.

    3. Duchess says:

      I’m sure Episcopal Relief and Development will be in Tennessee helping those who need help. They are the ones who know how to help and what to do. They do it all the time.

    4. Ashley Wilkes says:

      You are correct Ronald, millions of dollars of construction trucks and other construction material has been destroyed by “nonviolent demonstrators” but the episcopal church fails to talk about this.

  5. David Whitted says:

    Thank you, Bishop. It seems that a lot of people don’t seem to have the same compassion for our Native brothers and sisters as they do for others. Thank you for making sure we treat others as we would like to be treated.

  6. Catherine Cheek says:

    God’s peace and blessings to you, Presiding Bishop Michael.

  7. Donna Blankman says:

    Thank you Bishop Curry. This needs to be said over and over until reasonable action takes the place of aggressive tactics.

  8. Rev. Kathleen Bleyaert, Ph.D. says:

    Bishop Curry, Thank you for guiding all of us to lovingly, compassionately, and directly address challenging situations. May we all continue to pray and try to find a constructive, respectful, and peaceful solution. Chaplains with special training and experience can bring a healing presence. They will be a blessing!

  9. Susan Terrell says:

    Thankful for your loving guidance, .Bishop!

  10. Jane Stewart says:

    Bishop Curry, you are a blessing to the Water Protectors and to the Episcopal Church as well. Thank you for your strong and compassionate leadership regarding the travesty that is NODAPL.

  11. christine grem says:

    I encourage any one of white privlege to stand up not stand by and go pray and thank out water warriors.
    They will thank you for coming and there will be no violence when the crowd is filled with faces of many colors.

  12. John Miller says:

    Thank you Bishop Michael for your speaking out and offering a hand of reconciliation to the ND governor. I believe Jesus would be among those Native Americans and their other supporters.

  13. Valerie Ohle says:

    I think Donna Jerome has the Episcopal Church confused with the churches and ministries of Franklin Graham, Jerry Falwell, John Hagee, Marcus Lamb, James Dobson, et al. Those are the churches/ministries I’ve watched lobbying for political power gains.

  14. Susan Fiore says:

    Our Presiding Bishop is not a toadie of money and power. The conflict is not only over a treaty — which we dishonor ourselves by ignoring when it suits us — or over sacred land or over protecting the millions who depend on the Missouri River for water. It’s a conflict over whether money and power will prevail, or the future of our children and the planet will. Those who choose to remain ignorant about the impact of these pipelines, and oil itself, on our air, water and soil have no right to an opinion. Those who choose to put money and power ahead of our children and the future of our planet are among those whom Jesus called hypocrites, snakes and vipers, whited sepulchres. Christians are not called to be cowards, we are called to care for one another and creation itself.

  15. Kathryn Kerr says:

    Thank you, Bishop Curry for being the leader we need.

  16. Al Blackwell says:

    Thank you, Bishop Curry! It is clear from the comments that the work of Evangelism is still needed even within the Body of Christ called Episcopalians. If there is an allegiance higher in ones heart than the promises made at baptism then soul searching is needed. May we all stand with those who seek to do justice.

  17. Frank Julian says:

    Ronald Davin just an FYI:
    The Episcopal Church is helping the victims in TN. In fact in most areas of need there’s a church or community of churches that reach out to help those in need but it doesn’t always get the same press as other “news” items. Peace be with you.

  18. Anne Bay says:

    Every person needs to protest this pipeline, whether you are religious or not!! It’s about water-that’s why the Army Corps of Engineers stopped this today. There are so many issues involved in this, but the bottom line is non-replaceable safe water supply-once it’s damaged, it’s done. I’ve been listening to the discussion on this all week. Now tonight there was the announcement that Trump has thousands of shares in this company that has been trying to destroy the water supply! Trump sold a bunch of shares they said this summer, but still has thousands left! Instead of focusing on “what would Jesus do?” rhetoric, as U.S. citizens, we should be calling for Trump to resign as president -elect due to his massive world business holdings and business ownerships that are going to interfere in making decisions regarding not only our welfare as U.S. citizens, including oil pipelines, as well as the welfare of the people in other countries!

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