South Dakota Conference - United Church of Christ



It's Official !!! 

The South Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa Conferences voted to heartily affirm the Rev.  Brigit Stevens as Conference Minister of
their respective Conferences at meetings held on October 7th and Oct. 14th and to the position of Executive Conference
Minister of the Tri-Conference Ministries UCC, Inc. 

We look forward to our partnership together as conferences as we live out a new and exciting way of "being the church."

Cindy Hoy, Chair South Dakota Conference UCC Board of Directors
Sue Shear, Chair Nebraska Conference UCC Board of Directors
Diana McHenry, Chair Iowa Conference UCC Board of Directors
Dave Nelson, Chair of Tri-Conference Ministries UCC, Inc. Board


A New Day

The South Dakota Conference met on Saturday, October 14 and voted to affirm the Rev. Brigit Stevens as South Dakota Conference Minister effective January 1, 2018.  With our Conference partners in the Tri-Conference Ministries, Nebraska and Iowa, Rev. Brigit Stevens is also called to the position of Executive Conference Minister.

Prior to the affirmation of Rev. Stevens, Rev. Gordon Rankin graciously stepped aside and submitted his resignation as the Conference Minister of the South Dakota Conference to the Board of Directors. Plans for a celebration of his ministry in South Dakota are underway. Be watching for details about the celebration!

Faithfully,   Rev. Cindy Hoy
Chair, SD Board of Directors

Changing Seasons

As those of you who attended the Special Conference Meeting heard, Friday, October 14th I submitted my letter of resignation to the South Dakota Conference Board of Directors.  This was a technical necessity to fulfill our common understanding.  I have understood from first days of my candidacy as your Conference Minister, that should our Tri-Conference Ministry visions come together and a new Executive Conference Minister be elected that I would need to step aside.  My resignation is honoring the commitment I made to you long ago.  

My letter of resignation is attached.  I hope the tone conveys just how much of a privilege and blessing it has been to serve among you these past two and a half years. 

Yours in Faith,


Fundraiser for Bridger Horse Program

October 30, 2017

 Dear Members of the South Dakota Conference:

 For those of you who are Facebook friends of Toni and Byron Buffalo, you have seen photos and read updates on the horses that are key to a unique ministry, and part of the outreach, through the Upper Cheyenne United Church of Christ in Bridger, S.D.  For others who are learning of this for the first time, let us share a brief report as we ask for your help in raising funds for hay to feed these horses through the winter.

 One of Byron's early memories of growing up on Cheyenne River Reservation is the bond that formed while riding and caring for his uncle's horses.  Horses were numerous in the Native community when he was young.  Looking back he realized with sadness that the dwindling number of horses was directly related to the conditions of living on the Reservation and struggles with alcoholism.  Those thoughts were with him throughout the years he lived away from Bridger, and were also the centering that gave him the necessary strength and hope needed when he returned in 1999.  His own alcoholism, feelings of isolation and lack of direction became his recovery manual as he began to envision a plan to provide grounding for Reservation youth who struggle with some of the same issues.  These ongoing issues are clearly linked to a high number of teen and young adult suicide and substance addictions today. 


Since 2010, Byron, now pastor of Upper Cheyenne U.C.C., developed the ministry with horses that is in place today.  The youth who come to the Bridger church are catching Byron's dream.  With the guidance of experienced and faithful Native adults, these young people, boys and girls, find it possible to believe in themselves and in a future where such hope has been elusive for too long.  As they work together in tending to the needs of the horses there is a connection to that which is bigger, spiritually and culturally.  As they learn how to prepare for long distance rides to destinations of historical and personal relevance, their confidence grows.  And more youth join them as word spreads.  Through these experiences each one is able to sense God's embrace of love and grace while faith builds within.  This extraordinary ministry attempts to nurture and restore wholeness of body and spirit.

 Now we come to the point where your help can make a significant difference.  Due to the extreme drought that has seen no relief in north central South Dakota, hay is urgently needed for the horses from now until new pasture emerges in the spring.  Sources for hay have been located that offer what is required for survival.  We invite you to join us in a project of "Feeding the Horses."  Following is an indication of cost: 

1 large square hay bale (1 day of feeding) = $50
1 ton of hay (3 bales) = $150
 1 month of hay (30 bales) = $1500

 Please make checks to the South Dakota Conference, United Church of Christ with a memo line of, "Feeding the Horses," and mail to:  3500 S. Phillips Ave. #100, Sioux Falls, S.D.  57105.


Thank you for your generous support and encouragement!

 Friends of the Bridger Horse Ministry,
Rev. Elaine Miller, Member, Beresford United Church of Christ
Rev. Emily Munger, Pastor, Pierre Congregational United Church of Christ
Rev. Gordon Rankin, Conference Minister, S.D. Conference United Church of Christ
Rev. David Felton, Assistant Pastor to the Dakota Association, United Church of Christ

News from the Insurance Board
Statement of Witness
The following Statement of Witness was prepared by the conference staffs of the seven Conferences of the West Central Region of the United Church of Christ (Missouri Mid-South, Kansas-Oklahoma, Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, Minnesota and Northern Plains).   
A Statement of Witness from the Staffs of the Conferences
of the West Central Region of the United Church of Christ
November 2, 2016
Provoked by the Holy Spirit, we bear witness to the congregations, communities, and pastors of the Conferences of the West Central Region of the United Church of Christ:
  • God calls us to lean in, look hard, and pay close, prayerful, purposeful attention to the devastation caused by White Privilege in America. 
  • It is the responsibility of white people to do this leaning, hard looking, and close attending.  It is the responsibility of white people to raise and name terrible truths, trusting God who lovingly convicts and redeems. 
  • We refuse the vision of shallow, fragile tolerance among muted peoples.  We watch for the way to reparation as a prelude to reconciliation.  We pray and work for the day when every racial uniqueness is passionately celebrated as a reflection of the face of God.
  • We honor the sovereignty of First Nation peoples. We stand, speak, and act in solidarity with the people of God whose holy ground is called Standing Rock Reservation.  We move at their invitation, grateful for their leadership, with offerings of prayer, provision, and presence. 
We are more fully the people God calls us to be when we are together - learning together, working together, moving together.
  • A black and white print copy of this newsletter (clearly without videos or hyperlinks) that can be easily reproduced  by churches should be available in the next couple days.  Please contact Karen Peters at if you would like a copy emailed to you.
Conference Calendar
November 1 - Reformation 500th Anniversary Commemoration at Sioux Fall Arenaeet
November 7 - Annual Meeting Planning Zoom
November 8 - Executive Committee Meeting
November 10 - 12 - Fall Youth Event @ Placerville
December 6 - Executive Committee Zoom
December 12 - SDUCC Foundation Conference Call
January 14 (tentative) - Celebration of the Ministry of Carmen Gill
May 4-6 - South Dakota Conferend Annual Meeting
June 19-22 - West Central Regional Youth Event (Grinnell, IA)


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