Presiding Bishop Michael Curry on news from Standing Rock

Posted Dec 5, 2016

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop and Primate Michael Curry has issued the following statement on the news concerning the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation:

This morning, the sun ascended over the Great Plains of our nation, and hope truly dawned anew.

After months of courageously and peacefully working to prevent the laying of the Dakota Access Pipeline, which posed potential danger to the water supply of the people of the Sioux Nation and transgressed their sacred burial grounds, the water protectors on Standing Rock have won a notable victory. Yesterday afternoon, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced their decision to deny an easement for the Dakota Access Pipeline’s construction across the sacred land and water of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, and this long-awaited announcement is cause for joyful celebration and thanks.

On behalf of the Episcopal Church, I offer my gratitude to President Barack Obama and his Administration for championing the rights of the indigenous peoples of the United States. We applaud the decision by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to deny the pipeline permit under Lake Oahe. I personally offer thanks to all those who have worked to amplify the voices of the people at Standing Rock, calling our attention to historic wrongs and injustices, and urging us all to consider a new vision for how we might love God, love each other and love creation.

I am grateful and humbled by the water protectors of Standing Rock, whose faithful witness, serves as an example of moral courage, spiritual integrity, and genuine concern for the entire human family and God’s creation. I am equally appreciative of the sacrifice and example of the military veterans, interfaith clergy and trauma chaplains who accompanied the Water Protectors during critical moments of the struggle.

Our whole church should offer special thanksgiving to Father John Floberg of the Diocese of North Dakota for effectively organizing Episcopalians and other people of faith in this effort, and to clergy and lay people who committed themselves to standing with the water protectors – both physically and in spirit.

Even as our Church celebrates this historic announcement, we must also look to the mighty tasks that lay ahead. In the next eighteen months, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will conduct an Environmental Impact Statement to explore alternative routes for the Dakota Access Pipeline. We ask that the assessment involve extensive consultation with affected populations, and that any plan going forward honor treaty obligations with the Standing Rock Sioux. We will also continue to urge the current and incoming presidential administration to launch a thorough Department of Justice investigation into the use of brutal force by law enforcement on Standing Rock. Our work is not over, and the Episcopal Church has a critical role to play in ensuring a just and humane outcome is fully realized.

We recognize that this struggle for the protection of water and of the basic human rights of indigenous people is one moment in a wider movement for social and environmental justice. May we in this way bear true witness to the words of the holy prophet Micah, who said:

“He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you

but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)

The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church


Comments (61)

  1. Hugh Hansen, Ph.D. says:

    I have applauded presiding Bishop Curry’s leadership in the past. It seems that he is followed the model of ABC Welty in evangelism, prayer, and reconciliation. Now it seems that he has left the preaching of the gospel, caring for the diocese, and looking after the church to support a shallow political, Partisan effort to disrupt the flow of progress in this country. Paul said,

    Romans 8:20-22
    For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope

    that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.

    For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.

    That it will take the work of God to restore creation. There are millions of places in this world that need redemption and restoration. Surely, our esteemed presiding Bishop can find children to be educated, fed, nourished with the gospel of Christ where he could take his magnetic personality to ensure that they will be Christians, followers of Christ, for a lifetime.

  2. Joyce Misner says:

    I’m glad I took the time to read through this whole list of comments. I didn’t realize that the Souix were given the right to be heard in court in the beginning of this mess. There may be something to be said on both sides of the isle, however it is not right to take their lands any more than for the government to approiate my house for a road without compensation. I really do believe we should look to other sources for our energy needs and leave our Indian treaties alone. The US needs to be accountable for our word. Gas is not a necessity, Water is.

  3. I am wth the Bishop! As an Episcopalian, I believe churches come together to act for social justice! We need to be present, listen and act for the Earth and her people!

  4. George Ittner says:

    There are indeed two sides to this, but there can be no denying that halting the pipeline was a political act. Presiding Bishop Curry’s praise of the action was also political, albeit softly wrapped in the imprecise language of social justice. Silence on this matter might have been the wiser course.

  5. Peggy Kay says:

    True, the Army Corps did not fail in their research, because they have not done it yet. Energy Transfer Partners did not secure all of the necessary permits to build this project in its entirety, and went ahead with it before it had permits in hand. So, any result of the Corps deciding that more research is needed before granting more permits – such as additional time and expense, such as potentially not granting the next permit/s, is on ETP alone. You can see an open letter I wrote to Kelcy Warren, ETP CEO, on my Facebook page, listing all kinds of options to make different decisions. There were times when the tribes were not included in discussions, and the pipeline has already been rejected elsewhere because of concerns, so clearly those concerns are valid. The Army Corps decision also specifies that the tribes be included in future plans, which turns the corner toward positive treatment of First Peoples, of which the US should be in favor.

    Presiding Bishop Curry and we in the Episcopal Church are theologically, spiritually, scripturally, morally, ethically, and, yes, politically – not in terms of left or right but in terms of practical action for social good – taking the proper stand to advocate at Standing Rock. I am deeply grateful and thoroughly proud of Bishop Curry’s leadership and shepherding us in the right direction. But I believe we also have another, invisible shepherd, not only Jesus the Good Shepherd, but the first Native American, Enmegaboh, ordained an Episcopal priest in 1867 in what is now the Episcopal Church in Minnesota (diocese of Minnesota) His portrait is in St. Mark’s Cathedral in Minneapolis. The Bishop’s Seal has a broken tomahawk crossed with a peace pipe. I was struck when I saw that his name means “…prays with his people standing”. Standing! Our standing with Standing Rock is for First People who are also God’s people, for God’s creation, and for a better way forward for the environment and the oil industry.

    It also occurs to me that we in the Episcopal Church, making this stand, are demonstrating that the God/Great Spirit of the First Peoples is the same God as Christians and all other religions, all of humankind and the world, and that we intend to do our best to do God’s work in the world.

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