Faith into Action Outside of the Church


Putting faith into action can happen in many ways that may or may not be directly connected to one’s church. For Sky Krakos, the path came through the YMCA. 

“I’ve been working with the YMCA in some form since I was 13,” Krakos said. “I find their principles of serving the community through volunteer work to be very compatible with the values instilled in me at Webster UMC.” 

Krakos has been putting faith into action for the past several years through work with the Lakota Indian Reservation around Dupree, South Dakota. Bridge Builders St. Louis started in 2018 and was sponsored by the United Methodist Church. The exchange program has a small group of young adult elders from the Lakota reservation spend a week in St. Louis with a small group of young adults from St. Louis, who then spend a week at the reservation. They live together and examine issues relating to social justice. St. Louis stops include the holocaust museum, Lifewise and the site of the protests in Ferguson. 

The program was paused as the reservation was closed to visitors in 2020 and 2021, but resumed in 2022 and was conducted again this year.

Just as the Lakota visitors see a side of St. Louis that wouldn’t be on a tourist itinerary, the Missouri visitors also get some deep insight into the Lakota. The St. Louisans got here from an elder boarding school survivor, who was removed from his family and involuntarily compelled to go to a boarding school from age 7 to 19. There he was forced to give up his culture, language and religion.

“It is a difficult, heavy issue to talk about, but it is a crucial part of their history that we can’t ignore,” Krakos said. 

When Bridge Builders was not in session, Krakos was still at the reservation, working for the YMCA full-time as their volunteer coordinator. The YMCA hosts retreats and volunteer groups throughout the summer. 

The YMCA is in Dupree, a town of 500 people in South Dakota. They offer overnight camps for Lakota youth, where they can learn Lakota history and values. The YMCA in Dupree is quite different from most YMCAs. It doesn’t have a gym or fitness program. It does serve 500 meals a day during the pandemic, which went as high as 5,000 meals in an area with a population of 8,000. 

Krakos serves as a liaison and educator for volunteer groups. The YMCA is open to hosting church volunteer teams. This fall, Krakos is beginning a graduate program at Oregon State for a Master of Environmental Art and Humanities. The plan is to return to South Dakota next summer. 

Krakos remains the point person for church volunteer groups. Any church that would like more information about sending a volunteer team to the reservation can contact Krakos at