Greetings WAC Community,
Neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, for only God makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will be rewarded according to their labor, for we are God’s co-workers, God’s field, God’s building.
I Corinthians 3:7-9
Save the date: January 31, 2016, 4 – 8 pm, “Doing Justice in a Red State: Recognizing Racism; Embracing Diversity,” in Laramie. More details to come.
Thanks to God for all who contributed in so many ways to the fruit of our labors yielded in 2015. We worked hard. God made it grow.
Highlights for 2015:
#1 Birth of the Wind River Native Advocacy Center. This is huge! WRNAC is ready to do even more in 2016. Thanks to the Foundation of the Episcopal Diocese of Wyoming, there is second year funding of $50,000 for the Native Advocacy Days again in Cheyenne during the Wyoming Legislative Session, continued strategic planning and much more. Also, thanks to the Social Justice Fund and the George B. Storer Foundation, funding is available for the WRNAC to have its own director in the near future. The Wyoming Association of Churches, having served as mid-wife, will continue to nurture the WRNAC to empower Native Americans in Wyoming to have a stronger voice for a community engaged in self-determination for education, health, economic development and equality for the Wind River Reservation. In 2015, one big victory was getting the Wyoming State Legislature’s support of an 1115 Medicaid waiver for the WRR now before the federal government for final approval, potentially bringing in millions for improved health care for the WRR.
#2 Restoration of Next Generation Science Standards for the State School Board of Education’s consideration. Some in Wyoming see science and religion as in conflict instead of science as a tool for us to become better stewards of God’s creation. The Wyoming Association of Churches’ presence at the State Legislature made a difference in this legislation passing. Along the same philosophical basis, the Wyoming Association of Churches supported the Pope’s statement that raised the awareness about the connection between climate change and poverty. Let’s pray that local communities be open to increased knowledge for well-educated students to face the challenges ahead of us.
#3 – Response to the Riverton Shootings. After two Northern Arapaho men were shot, one of whom was killed and the other critically injured, the Wyoming Association of Churches supported the Unity March in Riverton, Community Dialogues in Fremont County and a petition demonstrating support for a Hate Crimes law in Wyoming.
#4 Welcoming Refugees Workshop. In January, the Wyoming Association of Churches sponsored a workshop in Wyoming about the need to become more welcoming to refugees in Wyoming. Given the political climate, WAC’s continued effort in this area is needed. We support the Wyoming Humanities Council to educate our communities to become more understanding about the facts about what refugee resettlement really means.
#5 Building Understanding and Cultural Bridges on the Wind River Reservation. These experiences were very meaningful to church members of all ages who participated in 2015. Until we develop relationships across cultural barriers and appreciate diversity, we cannot hope for change that will bring us together instead of pushing us apart. Churches have a special role.
#6 Tours of the Red Desert. For several years now, the Wyoming Association of Churches has promoted tours of the Red Desert led by John Mionczynski as a way to raise awareness about “a gem hidden in plain sight.” Thanks to the Wyoming Outdoor Council’s cooperation, we again were able to do that this past summer.
#7 Do What Matters Workshops. Our annual meeting program in Sheridan in September gave congregations strategies and best practices to grow, recognizing that Mom and Dad and grandparents still have the most influence on children and youth, meaning intergenerational programming.
#8-#10 Other endeavors we worked on included Medicaid expansion in Wyoming for over 17,000 mostly working poor now without health care coverage, repeal of the death penalty in Wyoming, and elimination of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identify. These challenges were moved forward; however, our work is not done yet.
Fear not. Be bold. Do justice.