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On WAC Becoming WIC

Greetings WAC Community,

And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. – Micah 6:3

The Wyoming Association of Churches voted unanimously at its 2012 annual meeting to become interfaith as opposed to being only ecumenical in order to become more inclusive with other faiths.  Ecumenical means within this context, “representing the whole of a body of churches.”  Interfaith means “involving those of different religious faiths.”  Therefore, we are moving from just being Christians toward being Christians, Jews, Muslims, Native American faiths, Unitarians, Buddhists, Mormons . . ., anyone of faith who seeks justice, loves mercy and is humbled by our Creator.

WAC is now in the process of becoming interfaith by October, 2017.  If this decision was made in 2012, why is it 5 years in happening?  It’s complicated.  Not everyone was at the meeting where the decision was made or had the same understanding of the decision.  Change is hard is another part.  But I think for many of us, we get into our comfort zones.  We can talk a good talk of wanting to be inclusive, but when we try, we find ourselves wanting them to be like us, not changing ourselves.  We want them to join us, not to join together into a new body.  Some sought instead to accommodate Christians who have a different lens about justice than WAC does.  In any case, it’s complicated.

Language is a barrier.  I recall a conversation with WAC, or the Wyoming Coalition of Churches as it was called back then in the 1980’s, about whether the Quakers could be a member if they didn’t believe in the Trinity.  For a while, WAC had observer status for those wanting to be involved but could not be members, something I detested.  I know similar conversations have taken place within local ministerial associations.  Do we have to believe the same to love the same?  I recognize the challenge when I write my weekly message for you.  Because I am a Christian, it’s easier for me to stick to Christian language I am familiar with that is not always inclusive.

One change is in the name, hence WAC becoming WIC.  Since January of this year, when WAC’s board made the decision after several conversations, to move forward to become interfaith at our October 2017 Annual Meeting, we began talking about a name change.  An interfaith committee that is working on the transition has proposed Wyoming Interfaith Council.  But it’s going to take more than a name change.

WAC’s mission that I believe can be summarized in two words, “Seeking justice” is not a barrier.  In fact, some religious peoples may be more apt at justice work than are many Christian congregations that have become comfortable avoiding the controversy necessary for justice work.  But WIC will need to determine a new mission and our vision for the future.

WAC now is made up of 8 denominations:  American Baptists, Disciples of Christ, Episcopalians, Evangelical Lutherans of America, Friends (Quakers), Presbyterians (USA), United Church of Christ and United Methodists.  They hopefully will continue with WIC.  The Catholics were a founder and part of WAC, but stepped back a few years ago, but hopefully may rejoin now with a new bishop having been named to the Diocese of Cheyenne.  The diocese has sponsored beautiful interfaith services at the beginning of the Wyoming State Legislature the last three years, so I know there’s support for being interfaith.

At a time when there seems to more and more divisions, it’s exciting to be a part of something that’s becoming more inclusive!  Pray that the Wyoming Interfaith Council becomes a reality, for the sake of Christians and non-Christians alike.

Fear not. Be bold. Do justice.


Chesie Lee

The Wyoming Association of Churches appreciates your many financial gifts for our justice work in Wyoming.  Click Here. Or you may mail checks to PO Box 1473, Laramie, WY 82073.

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