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The Wyoming Interfaith Network, shares the vision of the Interfaith Alliance by bringing together the diverse voices of our own community to challenge religious and political extremism. We also work to protect religious freedom in ways that are most relevant to our community.
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The Year in Review – Rejoice

Greetings WAC Community,

There, in the presence of the Lord your God, you and your families shall eat and rejoice in everything you have put your hand to, because the Lord your God has blessed you. – Deuteronomy 12:7

As I reflect back over 2016, I consider the disappointments, the deaths in my family (a brother and two sisters-in-laws) and financial worries.  But I can also rejoice, for God was always present and there is so very much for which we can rejoice.

Here are highlights of the Wyoming Association of Churches’ activities in 2016 well worth our rejoicing:

  1. These weekly messages going to 750 every Sunday evening.

  2. Sponsored and led the “Doing Justice” Workshop in January in Laramie.

  3. WAC’s voice at the Wyoming State Legislature for justice on a variety of issues, including Medicaid expansion and refugee settlement plan.

  4. Testified against re-instating a sales tax on food at a Wyoming Legislature Joint Revenue Committee Hearing in Douglas.

  5. Participated in National Ecumenical Advocacy Days on Racism, Class and Power in Washington, DC.

  6. Involved with the Community Dialogues in Fremont County to address relations between the tribes and local communities.

  7. Participated in the 2nd Annual Peace March on the anniversary of the shootings in Riverton in 2015.

  8. Conducted training in Riverton in June on addressing racism in cooperation with the Office of Health Equity – Wyoming Department of Health.

  9. Presented on addressing racism at the “Partnering to Promote a Health Wyoming  Conference” sponsored by the Wyoming Public Health Association in Cheyenne in September.

  10. Annual Meeting: Celebrating Diversity and 40th Anniversary in Casper, October 14-15: Keynote: Rosa Salamanca, U.S. Dept. of Justice; workshops led by Rosa, Lillian Zuniga, Jimmy Simmons, Dee Lundberg, Jason Baldes, Inge Kutchins and Chesie Lee; and entertainment by Cowboy Poet, Jack Schmidt.   (Thanks again to Dee Lundberg’s work for helping to make this happen!)

  11. Sponsored Interfaith Dialogue: Christianity and Buddhism workshop in Casper, November 12.

  12. WAC passed a resolution to oppose federal public lands being transferred to the state, Rev. Rebekah Simon-Peter spoke at the “Keep It Public, Wyoming” rally that WAC co-sponsored in November in Casper and Rev. Sally Palmer testified on WAC’s behalf at a hearing in Cheyenne in December on this issue.

  13. Promoted “The Bridge Exhibit” in several Wyoming Communities sponsored by the Episcopal Diocese of Wyoming and ThinkWY.

  14. Work with the Equality State Policy Center for increased community engagement and legislative accountability.

  15. The growth of the Wind River Native Advocacy Center:

  16. January, WRNAC’s first director and staff for the WRNAC, Jason Baldes.

  17. February, an AmeriCorps volunteer, Gabriel Spoonhunter, began.

  18. 2nd Annual Native Advocacy Days in Cheyenne during the Wyoming State Legislative Session supporting hate crimes legislation.

  19.  Earth Day Event in Ethete.

  20. April Minority Health Month Awareness Event in Riverton with Fremont County Health Care Providers.

  21. Election season – Every Native Vote Counts educational effort on the Wind River Reservation.

  22. Progress throughout the year on developing increased effective economic development strategies for the Wind River Reservation and gaining the support of the Select Committee on Tribal Relations.

  23. Campaigns on being involved in public lands decisions and “Indian Education for All” in the public schools.

  24. Annual Meeting in December with education on the successes of the “638” health care, economic development obstacles and opportunities on the WRR and how to lobby the Wyoming State Legislature.

  25. Grants from the Social Justice Fund, the Foundation for Episcopal Diocese of Wyoming, the George B. Storer Foundation and others.

Until I began compiling this list, even I had forgotten what with persistence, endurance and God’s grace, we have done.  My vision for ending racism in Wyoming is becoming reality.

Next week: Resolutions for WAC for 2017 for continued justice-making in Wyoming.

Fear not. Be bold. Do justice.

Blessings,

Chesie

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.

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