Set in the Northern Black Hills, this camping ministry for youth of the Diocese began in the 1960s as an initiative of the Diocesan youth. An early brochure for the camp said, “The camp was purchased and set up with the principle in mind that in camping, we come closer to nature and thereby discover the mighty works of God.” Every year, the camp, which welcomes youth grades 5-12, works to help campers love one another, while challenging them to look for God in our everyday lives and the world around us. Furthermore, South Dakota offers its camping ministry to anyone, and the Diocese of Wyoming sends 20-30 campers to Thunderhead each summer.
TEC is where many of our Diocesan youth receive their primary Christian education and formation. The young adult component of TEC as counselors develops leaders and is as important as the young campers themselves.
TEC is a primary ministry of the Diocese and is the largest ministry program of the Diocese. Our next bishop should be aware of the commitment required in sustaining TEC in financial and spiritual terms. The financial commitment is significant. Sixty percent of campers in 2018 were fully subsidized by Diocesan scholarships. All campers are at least partially subsidized as the actual cost per camper is not feasible to charge. The only way TEC survives is with continued Diocesan commitment.
In recent years, use of the camp has expanded to include a wide variety of ministerial opportunities including Summer Seminary, adult retreats, meetings, and family gatherings. It is a staple of Province VI.
A block grant, received from the Episcopal Church, is used entirely for Native Ministries across the Diocese. Youth programs have been developed and put into action on the Rosebud, Standing Rock, Pine Ridge Reservations. The work on the Standing Rock is in concert with the Diocese of North Dakota, as the Standing Rock Reservation connects our two Dioceses. Youth ministers serve the Standing Rock in both dioceses. In addition to providing events and activities, these programs have helped their respective communities better address the issues of suicide, drug abuse, school drop-outs, gang activity, and poverty.
The officers of the Niobrara Council coordinate Niobrara Convocation and assist the bishop in administering the ministries of our mission churches, which are a part of the Niobrara Deanery.
In early 2016, the world stood with our Native American siblings to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline. Our Diocesan and Episcopal Church leadership joined in protest against the risk being posed to sacred land and water.
The Niobrara School for Ministry provides theological and ministerial education and formation for those seeking training for ministry as deacons or priests in their local communities. Interested lay persons, seeking to further their education and deepen their spiritual life and gain practical skills for ministry, are encouraged and welcomed to take part. The NSM course of study is overseen by mentors, usually clergy. There are three to five ministry weekends held throughout the year at various locations around the Diocese. Summer Seminary, a week-long course of study, is held every year, covering topics such as liturgy, scripture, preaching, and theology. Additionally, Niobrara School for Ministry works with Diocese of South Dakota communications and social media to offer webinars and short digital education videos for use in the Diocese and the larger church.
Creation Care Network
This is a committed network of a dozen or so congregations in the Diocese, whose goal is to have a “communion” of Creation Care events through liturgy, education, reflection and activities. We recognize we are intimately connected with Mother Earth.
ECW has initiated a three-year rotating cycle of stewardship of giving to the Diocese, the Episcopal Church, and the Anglican Communion. ECW of the Diocese and of the Niobrara mission offers annual scholarships for continuing education to women in the Diocese.
St. Mary’s Leadership Development Board
The board offers college scholarships to men and women of any age from our diocese. The board recently awarded a $6,000 grant to TEC for camp scholarships.