Indigenous Missioner Annual Address 2018

Indigenous Missioner Annual Address 2018

Winter Talk Gathering, St. Crispin's Conference Center, Seminole, Oklahoma
February 16, 2018
By: 
The Rev. Dr. Bradley S. Hauff

I want to begin by saying that it is an honor and privilege to serve as the Indigenous Missioner for the Episcopal Church.  When I officially began my duties in February of last year I felt somewhat unqualified and unprepared for the daunting task.  I remember Bishop Charleston saying to me, “The good news is that you got the job.  The bad news is that you got the job.”  Having personally known several previous Missioners and seeing the challenges and difficulties they faced on a regular basis was, and continues to be, a humbling experience for me.   Indeed, it is not easy.  But with God all things are possible.  And as I grew into the position over the first several months, I realized that, in many ways, I had been preparing for it for most of my life without knowing it.  Through growing up in South Dakota as an Indigenous tribal member.  Through growing up in the Episcopal Church and becoming acquainted from an early age with Native church leaders like Vine DeLoria, Sr., Bishop Harold Jones, Webster Two Hawk and Ron Campbell.  Through attending high school with Marty and Robert Two Bulls and knowing their dad, Robert Sr.  Through working with Paul Sneve at Thunderhead Camp in South Dakota and knowing him as a friend from age 16.  Through attending Augustana College in Sioux Falls and getting to know Martin Brokenleg, one of my professors who became my friend.  Through being one of numerous Native students who attended Seabury-Western Theological Seminary with the assistance of this office, the Office of Indigenous Ministries, with Owanah Anderson as Missioner.  God bless Owanah, who passed away last April.  Without her help I probably wouldn’t be here. 

Through beginning my ministry on the Yankton Mission in South Dakota and working with Creighton Robertson who would later become bishop.  Through my involvement in various Indigenous Ministries events and projects over 27 years as I served as an Episcopal priest in congregational ministries in the dioceses of Minnesota, Dallas, Florida and Pennsylvania.  And through being a member of the Task Force for Reimagining the Episcopal Church, through which I got to know Presiding Bishop Michael Curry.  What this tells me is that God is constantly working in our lives, whether we know it or not, to fulfill a plan.  It’s happening with me, it’s happening with all of you.  It’s happening with Indigenous Ministries.

I have a lot of exciting things to tell you.  For the past year I have been traveling extensively.  I like to tell people wherever they live that you will probably be seeing me soon at an airport near you.  After Winter Talk of last year, in February I participated in the Seminarians of Color Conference in Orlando along with several of our Native seminarians.  From there I went to Los Angeles where I met with Mary Crist and the members of the Indigenous Women’s Talking Circle, whom I visited again earlier this month.  From there I visited the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota, where I met with Bishop Mike Smith and where the Reverend John Floberg took me to what was left of the Oceti Sakowin Camp after it disbanded, and met with several tribal council members.  In March I went to Washington, D.C., where I helped organize and presided over the Standing As Stone Evening Prayer Service at the Washington National Cathedral on the eve of the Native Nations March in Support of Standing Rock.  It was one of the most moving experiences of my life to see thousands of people at the service and even more at the march.  In April I went to South Dakota to meet with Bishop Tarrant, and where the Reverend Patricia White Horse-Carda took me on a tour of the Yankton and Santee mission fields, and where the Reverend Kim Fonder took me on a tour of the missions of the Cheyenne River and Standing Rock Reservations.  From there I was honored to attend the funeral of Owanah Anderson in Wichita Falls, Texas.  From there I went to Virginia Theological Seminary to attend the Missional Voices Conference and where I met with our Native seminarians there.  From there I went to New York to attend the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples and wrote a resolution on the need for restitution to Indigenous people by nations that have subjugated and assimilated us, including our own. 

In May I visited Alaska, where I spent some time with Bishop Lattime and attended the Interior Deanery Meeting in Tanana.  From there I attended the Spring In House Meeting at the Episcopal Church Center in New York.  From there I attended a church planting conference in Phoenix, where I also spent time meeting with Bishop Kirk Smith, the Reverend Mary Crist and Byron Sloan.  In June I attended the Navajoland Convocation at Ft. Defiance as the guest of Bishop Bailey, and I had a wonderful time getting better acquainted with that area and the clergy and people there.  After that I helped facilitate the Why Serve Conference in Chicago, a workshop for young people of color who are in the process of discerning their ministries.  From there I went with Presiding Bishop Curry to Red Shirt Table on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota for the annual Niobrara Convocation, and I can tell you that the PB’s sermon was a big hit among the people there.  In July I went to the Episcopal Youth Event here in Oklahoma, where we had an increased Native presence from previous years, in particular a great contingent of young people from Navajoland.  From there I helped facilitate the New Community Conference at Camp Allen near Houston, where Episcopalians of color from around the church, and numerous bishops, gathered to worship, to learn, to teach, and to celebrate together the experience of the Beloved Community known as the Episcopal Church, which is no longer primarily a white Anglo denomination, but one of increasing diversity.  In August I visited Indian View Church in King William, Virginia, along with Bishop Carol Gallagher and Archdeacon Lewis Powell, where we met with Chief Ken Adams and several tribal members in that region to commemorate the death of Pocahontas.  From there I attended a Native Ministries conference in Phoenix, which was facilitated by the Reverend Debbie Royals.  The next week I attended meetings of the Bishops’ Native Collaborative and the Indigenous Ministries Advisory Council Task Force, both in Minnesota.  In late August I attended the Anglican Indigenous Network meeting in Ontario, Canada, along with Lewis and Anne Powell and the Reverend Rachel Taber-Hamilton.  I am pleased that we have among us as guests today our Anglican brothers and sisters from New Zealand and Canada, and we welcome them.  In September I attended a multicultural ministries event in Richmond, Virginia, facilitated by Aisha Huertas of the Virginia Diocese.  From there I went to the Leech Lake Reservation in northern Minnesota, as invited by Canon Robert Two Bulls and a group of Lutheran clergy, to discuss Indigenous ministries cross-denominationally in that region.  In October I went to Seattle, where I participated in an Indigenous Peoples’ Day march and met with Bishop Rickel and several Indigenous clergy to discuss the mission and ministry in that region.  From there I attended a meeting of the Indigenous Theological Training Institute in Minnesota.  From there I attended the Diocese of Fond du Lac’s annual convention on the Oneida Reservation where I gave a short presentation on Indigenous Ministries and preached at Holy Apostles Church that Sunday.  From there I went to the Executive Council meeting in Maryland and gave a presentation to the Local Mission and Ministry Committee on Indigenous Ministries and the Episcopal Church.  From there I went to Richmond, Virginia, where a group of Native clergy and lay leaders met at the Roslyn Center to continue discussions on the Decade of Remembrance, Recognition and Reconciliation (the 3 R’s.)  After that I went to New York to meet with Bishop Bailey and a contingent of clergy and people from Navajoland who were being hosted by Trinity Church Wall Street, and for the Fall In House Gathering at the Episcopal Church Center.  In early December I visited St. Simon’s Church in Arlington Heights, Illinois, to facilitate a workshop on Indigenous Ministries in Navajoland and other areas, with the help of Leon Sampson, and I preached at the Sunday service there.

As you can tell, 2017 was a busy year.  And I expect 2018 to be another one.  So far I have been in Los Angeles for a departmental meeting of the Ethnic Missioners and to meet again with the Indigenous Womens’ Talking Circle at the Cathedral Center.  I also attended the Province 8 Winter Talk Gathering in Fort Hall, Idaho, where Ron Braman did a fantastic job of coordinating the conference.  And there are a number of things coming up.  General Convention takes place in Austin, TX in July, and there are issues for us to consider, including the Budget for the Triennium and how it impacts the church, getting a Native voice on Executive Council, and writing and presenting resolutions dealing with Indigenous Theological Education and Training and the continuation of the Decade of the 3 R’s.  Prior to that will be a General Convention Deputies of Color Conference in early March to help prepare us for this work.  Additionally, The Reverend Debbie Royals is in the process of putting together the book “Beyond 400 Years” which will pick up where Owanah’s book left off.  A new organization incorporating the best of the Bishops’ Native Collaborative and the Indigenous Theological Training Institute will be created, Godwilling, to continue that important work in the future.  The Reverend Isaiah Brokenleg is with us here at St. Crispin’s to facilitate a discussion on pulling together this organization.  Our work with the Anglican Indigenous Network will continue.  And we will continue our work together to address the challenges found within our Native dioceses, congregations and communities, such as producing hymns and liturgies in Indigenous languages; supporting and empowering our children, youth and young adults; speaking out on issues of justice and reconciliation; identifying and fortifying businesses and practices that will help sustain our communities; and raising up future leaders in both the lay and clergy orders.

I want to take this time also to tell you about the formation of the Indigenous Ministries Advisory Council.   This past year an Indigenous Task Force comprised of Canon Paul Sneve, Canon Robert Two Bulls, Buzz McDonald, the Reverend Cornelia Eaton, Carmine Goodhouse, and the Reverend Bessie Titus worked with me and numerous bishops across our church to discern a council of qualified and trusted leaders from our Indigenous communities to serve on a council of advice for me in my capacity as Missioner.  I am pleased that most of the members of this council are present at this gathering, and we will have our first meeting here.  The members are: Rebecca Clark (Olympia), the Reverend Mary Crist (Los Angeles), Leslie Trosper (Wyoming), Forrest Cuch (Utah), Keane Akao (Hawaii), the Reverend Debbie Royals (Arizona), Carmine Goodhouse (North Dakota), the Reverend Bessie Titus (Alaska), James Marrs (South Dakota), Caressa James (Oklahoma), the Reverend Cornelia Eaton (Navajoland) and Edwin Smith (Minnesota).   They comprise a council of Indigenous people selected by Indigenous leaders from the grass roots and will be an invaluable resource to me and to us in our work together.  When we begin meeting we will discuss how we will work together in the future, the guidelines of the council membership and operations, and how we will go about selecting bishop(s) to join our membership – this last part was deferred by the Task Force.

I thank you all for your prayers, suggestions and support.  Again, it is an honor to serve as your Missioner.  I want you to know that you have my prayers, support and love.  I hope you will see me as your partner in ministry, a resource person, a listening ear, and a brother in Christ.  Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or concerns.

May the blessing of our Great Spirit: Creator, Redeemer, and Advocate, be with us all evermore.  AMEN.

Respectfully submitted,
The Reverend Dr. Bradley S. Hauff (Oglala Sioux)