Book on South Dakota Churches Named Award Finalist

Early Churches in South Dakota: A Lasting Legacy by Robert W. Sebesta is a finalist for the thirty-first annual Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) Benjamin Franklin Award in Religion. Published by the South Dakota State Historical Society in August, the book showcases over six hundred religious structures built from 1869 to 1930—many still in use, others long neglected.

A testament to the people who built them, churches represent shared religious beliefs, local craftsmanship, and community. Members of the congregations often constructed these buildings from readily available materials to fulfill their visions of faith, education, and fellowship. From simple wood structures to large stone edifices, each building embodies the identity of its worshippers. In Early Churches in South Dakota, Sebesta details, decade-by-decade, the early efforts to create these places of worship and the modern-day struggles to preserve them.

“It is an honor to be recognized by the Benjamin Franklin Awards,” says Nancy Tystad Koupal, director of the South Dakota Historical Society Press. “Sebesta’s work is a great contribution to the spiritual history of the state and region.”

The IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards are regarded as one of the highest national honors for independent publishers and include over fifty categories, recognizing excellence in book editing and design. Fifty-four award winners will be announced on 5 April 2019 during a ceremony in Chicago, Ill.

Early Churches in South Dakota: A Lasting Legacy is available for $29.95 plus shipping and tax and can be purchased from most booksellers or ordered directly from the South Dakota Historical Society Press. Visit or call (605) 773-6009. For more information email