by Rev. Audette Fulbright Fulson
published May 14, 2016
Wyoming Tribune Eagle
Unitarian Universalist churches are built on the bedrock of service to others and service to their community.
Inside our doors, we pray that people are spiritually fed, encouraged to grow strong in a faith that uplifts and equips them for changing the world, for bending the arc of justice down into our own community, for being a beacon of hope and welcome to people, affirming that they are worthy of love.
Each Sunday, one of our board members welcomes our members and guests with these words:
“You are welcome here among friends in this house of fellowship. Whoever you are, whatever you believe, whomever you love, we are glad you are here.”
A good church can do much for a community, but it cannot do all things. Wyoming is a beautiful state with a small population.
Folks here will tell you the state itself operates like a small town; people take care of each other when they need to, but mostly they prefer to let their neighbors be.
At the same time, our state is struggling. The changing face of energy is hitting us hard. We need to be able to attract new businesses, and build an economy that is dynamic and resilient.
To do that, we need to make sure that Wyoming does what its residents claim they do: take care of one another. That means everyone.
But do we really take care of each other well? We have the highest suicide rate in the nation.
Not too long ago, headlines were made again when a young gay man, Trevor O’Brien, committed suicide in Wyoming. His family points to the bullying he was subjected to as a significant factor in his decision to take his own life.
He’s not alone. We know our LGBT family members and friends too often face a toxic mixture of silence and condemnation. It takes too many from us.
If we, and they, are lucky, they only move away and leave us behind. If we are unlucky, we lose someone like Trevor.
One way we could take another step on the road to making Wyoming a genuinely healthy community that takes care of its people is to pass a non-discrimination ordinance.
This is essential to economic growth and to protect all of our citizens – and despite what some would tell you, our LGBT friends and families need this basic protection.
Another way is to pass Medicaid expansion – we could save money and lives. Caring for one another may mean more action than is sometimes the Wyoming way.
What if we were to do things here in Wyoming that said “you are welcome here in this place of fellowship?”
What if we cared for one another in such a way that we literally saved one another’s lives? That’s the kind of “small town” state that many people long for. That’s the kind of state our church works for every day.
The Rev. Audette Fulbright Fulson is pastor of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Cheyenne. Local clergy who would like to write a column for consideration and use on the Religion page should contact reporter Becky Orr at 307-633-3183 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.