For the past 15 years, John Robertson has led St. Cornelia’s Episcopal Church on the Lower Sioux Community.

For Robertson, that role provided him the opportunity to serve the congregation and the community in a variety of ways.

As of the end of December that role, at least in an official capacity, came to an end, as Robertson has stepped down from his position as its leader. His final service in that leadership role before the members of St. Cornelia’s was Dec. 29.

Robertson said he felt now was the time to step aside to allow someone else to take the reins of the local church and its growth.

“A lot of it is that now I can do more of what I want to do,” said Robertson with a smile, adding in terms of his faith that means spending more time studying and researching God’s word.

Being in full-time ministry was not something Robertson would have ever imagined as he grew up, but he added faith has always been a very important part of his life.

Robertson said before becoming the leader of the church in an official capacity back in 2005, he was already doing at lot of what the role required.

“The bishop realized at that time it was senseless to not use the resources they had,” said Robertson.

So, he took on that role of leader, and over the years has seen and experienced a lot right alongside other members of the congregation.

From performing baptisms to standing beside families in their time of loss, Robertson has faithfully served the St. Cornelia’s congregation, and he feels blessed to have been able to be part of all of that.

“In a lot of ways I was getting paid to do what I love to do,” said Robertson. “People say that I love to talk. Some might even say I like it too much.”

Robertson said one of the most important roles that he felt he was able to fill was providing the Christian faith within the culture of the Dakota people. The Native American way of life has always been important to Robertson, as it is also part of who he is. 

Who will fill the pulpit at St. Cornelia’s in the future is still up in the air, said Robertson, adding he has not been part of that conversation.

“That will be done at the diocesan level,” he said, adding in the meantime others have been filling in on an interim basis.

Robertson said part of his plan would be to continue serving other churches in that same kind of interim role.

He also has plenty of other plans, including spending time with the next generation of his family and being an influence on them in whatever way he can.

“I also want to plant some fruit trees,” he said, adding the intent would be to raise those trees for his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Robertson said he knows he will miss the interaction with the families at the church and just being in that spiritual part of their lives.

The church itself continues to recover from damage to the building as a result of saturated ground after flooding. While the congregation has recently been able to get back into the building for worship, Robertson said there is still plenty of work to do before the building is whole again.

He said one of the challenges for the historic building is finding matching brick for the interior, as he assumes it came from the brick company near Morton.

As the church continues to recover, it will also look to grow in a new way under different leadership, and Robertson is confident things are going to be just fine at St. Cornelia’s.