Greetings WAC Community,
Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. . . And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. – Colossians 3:12-14
By three things is the world sustained: law, truth and peace. – Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers), 1:18; If not now, when? – 1:14; One whose deeds exceeds his wisdom, his wisdom endures. But one whose wisdom exceeds his deeds, his wisdom does not endure. 3:10
We are created differently so that we may know each other. – Quran 49:13 (Paraphrased by me.)
Interfaith Prayer Service:
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Cheyenne hosted an interfaith prayer service at the Cathedral of St. Mary the morning of the opening of the 64th Wyoming State Legislature. Rabbi Larry Moldo, Mt. Sinai Congregation in Cheyenne; Dr. Mohamed Salih, Iman, S.E. Wyoming Islamic Center and Fr. Carl Gallinger, St. Joseph’s Church in Cheyenne gave reflections based in part on the proclamations found in the scriptures I have cited above. Prayers were led by Henry Bailey, Cheyene Wyoming Stake President, the Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints; Fr. Bernadine Craft, priest of the Episcopal Church of the Holy Communion and former state senator, Rock Springs; Rev. Alison George, pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Cheyenne and me for the Wyoming Association of Churches.
The service was well attended. Many spoke to me later saying how moving the service had been to them personally. Themes involved respecting the dignity for all of us, healing and unity, concern for the common good (especially the poor and most vulnerable) and for strength, courage and wisdom. While none of us said the exact same thing, clearly the messages coherently spoke of good will and respect for and among all people. In a time of so much division and mistrust, the positive energy that this service generated is profound.
Wyoming Association of Churches Becoming Interfaith in 2017:
On Monday prior to this service, the Wyoming Association of Churches board of directors voted to move ahead based on a 2013 resolution to become interfaith by the time of our 2017 annual meeting this fall (probably October). This is huge! It is exciting! We will need to change our name and change in other ways to be more inclusive. The mission to promote social and environmental justice remains the same. Our diversity will make us stronger. If you would like to be a part of this historic shift, let us know by dropping me an email to me at email@example.com.
News from the legislature:
Native Advocacy Days: The Wind River Native Advocacy Center (WRNAC) sponsored 20 of its members, mostly youth, to come to Cheyenne January 10-12. They met with Governor Mead and educated legislators about concerns for their people and on the Wind River Reservation. They focused on HB 76 that would provide the framework for teaching in K-12 students in our public schools about Native American culture and history, especially about the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho Tribes, the sovereign nations in Wyoming. Their history is Wyoming history. WRNAC members will be going to Cheyenne throughout the session so that their voice is heard. Thanks to the First United Methodist Church for providing lunch on the day they arrived. The Native Advocacy Days during the legislative session is being funded by the Foundation of the Episcopal Diocese of Wyoming. Want to help? Let the WRNAC know: firstname.lastname@example.org.
HB 76 – American Indian Education Program: That has been referred to the House Education Committee. A hearing date has not been set. Please contact members of that committee to let them know that you support this bill. The representatives on that committee are: David Northup (chairman), Debbie Bovee, Landon Brown, Jamie Flitner, John Freeman, Hans Hunt, Mark Kinner, Jerry Paxton, and Garry Piiparinen. WAC supports HB 76.
Remember that legislator email addresses are: email@example.com. Send messages to all committee members as when they are acting as a committee, they represent the whole state, not just their constituents.
SJ 3 – Public Lands – Constitutional Amendment: That has not been referred to a committee, but neither has it been laid back, so we are keeping an eye on it. The website www.keepitpublicwyo.com provides current information on the status of this proposal. WAC opposes SJ 3, as we consider our open public lands sacred and need to be managed as such.
A bill to repeal Wyoming’s death penalty is expected to be filed in the near future.
A joint resolution is also expected soon asking that the U.S. Congress and President protect federal tribal trust responsibility for healthcare for American Indians by continuing 100% federal match for Medicaid. Medicaid now provides funding for nearly half of the healthcare costs for facilities serving the Wind River Reservation. 100% Medicaid coverage for American Indians saves the State of Wyoming an average of $3 million annually.
Watch “What Was Ours” on Independent Lens, Monday night, the 16th, at 9 pm on Wyoming PBS. I attended the screening of it this fall in Riverton and highly recommend seeing it. It’s about efforts to find and return artifacts that were taken from the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho. It includes the role of the Episcopal Diocese of Wyoming.
Save the Dates: On Saturday, January 28th is a demonstration of solidarity with Standing Rock at the State Capitol in Cheyenne, 3 – 6 pm. Plans are to project pictures from the Standing Rock site on the construction barrier wall in front of the capitol building now under major renovation. On June 16th, the Crow Pipe Ceremony will again take place at Heart Mountain outside of Cody.
Fear not. Be bold. Do justice.
P.S. The Wyoming Association of Churches appreciates your many financial gifts for our justice work in Wyoming for the oppressed. Click here. Or mail your contribution to WAC, PO Box 1473, Laramie, WY 82073.
Dates to Remember:
“What Was Ours” on Wyoming PBS, Jan. 16, 9 pm
Solidarity Demonstration with Standing Rock, Jan. 28, 3-6 pm, Wyoming State Capitol, Cheyenne
Crow Pipe Ceremony, June 16, Heart Mountain, near Cody
Ecumenical Advocacy Days in DC, April 21-24