The Wyoming Pastor’s Network is a loose affiliation of churches within the state of Wyoming that share a common commitment to Marriage, life and religious freedom that is now comprised of some 200 churches representing many different denominations.
In choosing a name for ourselves, the Wyoming Pastors Network wishes to convey three clear ideas which describe and focus our intentions. What follows is a brief reflection on each of the three words in our name.
Our aim is to speak to the civil governance in the state of Wyoming. In particular, we intend to focus on the Sanctity of Human Life, the Sanctity of Marriage, and the Free Exercise of Religion.
St. Paul tells us (Romans 13) that every governing authority will be held responsible before God for the way he governs. Contrary to the misinformation of the Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, our history as a nation and the United States Constitution operate on this basis.
No matter what vocation a Christian might have, it is a pastor’s responsibility to apply the Word of God to the way a member carries out that vocation. Government ministers are not exempt from this instruction. When you have a government official as a member of your Church, it is your responsibility – as his or her pastor – to call him to account should he govern in a way contrary to the will of God. Whether he be a city councilman, a state legislator, a cabinet member, or a US congressman or governor. This does not mean that you tell them how to do their job, but to live out their faith.
Ambrose of Milan provides us with, perhaps, the first example in history of such a faithful pastor. When emperor Theodosius was a member of his congregation, the emperor determined to murder 7000 citizens of Thessolonika. Not only did pastor Ambrose firmly instruct him of the ungodliness of his intention, when he carried it out anyway, Ambrose treated him as he would treat anyone who would openly despise the Word of God. By this early Christian precedent, Christians everywhere learned that there is no wall of separation between one’s Christianity and one’s governmental work.
While in that day, governmental ministers were a small and limited group, the Constitution of the United States of America instituted a unique form of government wherein every single citizen over the age of 18 has an official role in the U.S. government. The role of citizen is exercised most decisively by the vote; but also by advocacy in the public square. That is the reason for the First Amendment. The first words of the Bill of Rights protect both the freedom of speech and the free exercise of religion.
Accordingly, the WYOMING Pastors Network exists for the STATE of Wyoming. What you do in your congregations to teach and encourage faithful governance among the voters in your flock, is not simply “permitted” or “an optional activity” permitted to pastors. It is, rather, part and parcel of a PASTOR’s charge to teach the whole council of God.
This brings us to the word “Pastors.” Why is this network focused on pastors? Why not include all people, or at least all Christians?
Each pastor, personally, is given charge over his flock. No one else may usurp this personal responsibility to shepherd the flock of God.
As St. Paul said to the elders of Ephesus: “Pay careful attention to Yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers.” Acts 20:28.
The WPN respects that God-given accountability. No SERIOUS MINDED pastor is — or ought to be — willing to give unfettered access to the ears of his sheep. The WPN does not want to insert itself into your God-given responsibility. Only you are in a position to judge WHEN, and HOW, and IN WHAT WORDS, and BY WHAT MEANS the people in your care should be given the information that you receive from the Network.
The WPN does not insist that everybody react to the information in all the same way. In all of these matters, the pastoral leaders of the congregation must be deferred to as gate-keepers. The WPN understands that. And we support and defend your right to make such decisions.
The only thing that the WPN asks of its members is that the information which we pass on would never be used in such a way as to harm or undermine the stated goals of the other members of the Network.
This brings us to the final word, NETWORK.
This word was not chosen lightly. It is meant as a precise description of what we intend to accomplish. This is not an ASSOCIATION, or an ORGANIZATION, COALITION, FELLOWSHIP etc. All such words bespeak a unity of being which we do not claim to have achieved. They immediately open us to disagreements about theological questions.
Network, on the other hand, indicates one thing, and one thing only. Namely, the real-time flow of information. The Network allows us to share PARTICULAR kinds of information, without threatening the doctrinal integrity of anybody.
The WPN is NOT an ecumenical endeavor! We are not involved in the process of unifying separated brethren. Nor are we in the business of deciding which disagreements are serious enough to warrant division and which are not. These are both important topics of discussion and we pray every success on your per suit of them. But they are not in the preview of what we wish to accomplish.
Instead, the WPN is less about co-operation (joint working) than it is about co-ordination (synchronized working). For example, as much as we might appreciate having additional bodies in the fight for human life, we will never be able to share the message of “Atheists for Life.” Their first name undermines our entire reason for existence. Conscience prohibits any appearance of unity. After all “what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?” (2 Cor. 2:15) That being said, if the synchronization of our activity can lead to a greater impact for the benefit of the unborn and their confused mothers, it would be unconscionable to deny that love to our smallest neighbor.
This is similar to what the WPN is seeking to accomplish. If you are reading this, you probably share a conviction that the sanctity of marriage is good for all men and women, the sanctity of life is good for mother and child alike; and the free exercise of religion is good for all of America. But you also have a particular and nuanced theology.
Our goal is not to change your message one wit. Our goal is to supply you with enough information that you can know when and how to make your case in such a way that it has the greatest impact. In doing so, we will have assisted your cause at the same time as we have assisted the same cause of everybody in the network.