MAY 2018
Open hears. Open minds. Open doors.
The people of The United Methodist Church

Cowboy Down

Recently a young man drove out to the Grey Rocks reservoir near Wheatland one evening and parked his pickup truck at an overlook. He sat there quietly staring into the night. One can only imagine what Jonathan Brown was thinking or feeling. What would bring him to raise a firearm to his head and pull the trigger? What personal crisis was so bad that he would end his life after only 20years? Everyone has been asking the same question. Why? None of his coworkers at Drube’s Hardware understood it. He was cheerful and always telling jokes at work. He didn’t seem disturbed at all. The employees were all confused and shocked, wondering, “Why didn’t he say something? Why didn’t he share his feelings?”

I felt the heartache too, even though I did not know him personally. I had met him when I was buying something for the parsonage.

Searching for my own answers, I decided to read about suicide in Wyoming and in my journalistic curiosity, I discovered what I’m sharing here. Last year 144 Wyomingites came to the same conclusion, that violence aimed at themselves was the answer to their problems. Eighty percent of these deaths were men. Seeing no other way to face their personal issues, they brought themselves to an end, 70% with the use of firearms. If you aren’t alarmed by the information let me put it into perspective. So far this year Wyoming has the third highest suicide rate in the country, behind only Montana (#1) and Alaska (#2). According to World Atlas Online, eight of the top ten states for suicide are Rocky Mountain states. Guns are responsible for the largest share of suicide deaths because they are so lethal. Wyoming has the most successful suicide rate by firearms of any state over the last 15 years according to a 538.com feature. (https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/suicide -in-wyoming).

In looking for explanations as to why these states have higher suicide rates I found some useful information. Researchers suggest there are many reasons and the Wyoming wind was not one of them. The four most notable reasons for the high suicide rate are: The isolated life of rural living, ready access to lethal weapons, and the lack of adequate medical and mental health support. The fourth factor mentioned, was the values cultivated by a culture of self-reliance and rugged individualism. Self-reliance helps people thrive in a landscape that’s big and tough but can also put them at risk if they get into a personal crisis because self-reliant people don’t ask for help or talk about their feelings. Jonathan certainly fit into this category. When asked, Jonathan refused to talk about his problems with those closest to him, instead he went it alone. Like in the western movies, western men are taught to believe that toughness is a landmark of their identity and to show vulnerability, or weakness, means they are flawed.

No one had any idea Jonathan was having trouble because a real man doesn’t talk about his feelings. A real man “cowboys up.” A real man or woman dares not talk about the hurt inside, it would make him or her look weak and show need for others. Understandably, these men and women don’t want to be a burden to family and friends and don’t want others to have to bear their burdens. In my view, that’s why everyone was confused about Jonathan’s suicide. They simply could not understand why he would do it. But we know something was seriously wrong inside his heart.

This cultural explanation of rugged individualism helps me understand why on that fateful night, Jonathan saw no other option and that’s most likely why he took his own life. From head to toe, he was a “real man.” On that evening of heightened anxiety and emotional distress instead of reaching out for help, he impulsively acted, picked up the desired weapon from his collection and drove to the reservoir to bring an end to it all.

In the spirit of Matthew 25, we reach out and pray for Jonathan Brown’s family, coworkers and friends. We also pray for those thinking about killing themselves, those who are afraid to talk about the deep hurt they are feeling. We pause for reflection to consider what we can do in the aftermath of this young man’s death because we bear some responsibility for this situation. Some may say, “You can’t change the culture.” And maybe we can’t but isn’t it worth considering? After all, Jesus calls us to experience the suffering of the world and do something about it.

In John 13: 34-35, Scripture provides guidance for addressing this issue, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Let us focus on this mandate of love and seek ways to act and bring change and work to prevent future events like this one. We collectively ask God to use us to help those hurting inside so that we may prevent the next unexpected suicide. For our men this is especially important.

Can we work to bring about a change in the culture, so people at risk will no longer feel forced into isolation and self-destruction? The task seems pretty daunting. Perhaps we can find ways to empower men and women to share their hurt and pain and help them so that when they find themselves in the middle of an emotional crisis they don’t just end it all.

If you are feeling defensive about this article I hope that you will give it some time, look inside and ask yourself why you feel that way. I believe we can preserve the Wyoming culture and still address this problem. If you are an avid firearms person, consider what you might offer in the way of ideas for preventing

suicides. It’s not enough to say, “We can’t change things.” Instead, let’s start a constructive dialogue and save lives. Others are doing this work.

After losing two teenage sons to suicide, Rhianna Brand has made suicide prevention her life work. Brand is the director of operations at the Grace for 2 Brothers Foundation, a Cheyenne nonprofit dedicated to suicide prevention and awareness. She is hopeful about bringing about change. She believes “Suicide is 90 percent preventable.”

On another positive note, lawmakers recently restored funding for suicide prevention services across Wyoming. The Department of Health will distribute $8 million to counties for prevention services, with about $2 million of that dedicated for suicide prevention. So, there are some glimmers of light.

Let us be in conversation about this important subject. Maybe we should invite people to come and share with us ways that we might contribute to positive change in our community. If you have suggestions about resources, please let me know. If you have a personal experience you’d like to share, I’m happy to listen.

Grace and peace,
Pastor Robin
Pastor Robin

Johnny’s cousin’s son, Eric; David V.; Merle W.; WillaJean W.;
Derek S.’s cousin, Joseph; Ron & Kathryn C.; Johnny Y.'s family;
the Jacob A. family; Jim W.; Marian C. and family of Betty H.;
Alice J.; Chris L.; Deb D.; the Larry F. family; The family of
Chuck S. (Bill W.’s Uncle); Bill W.; Irene J.; Bonnie Y.;
Maxine S.; Leslie D.; Diane N.; Bronwyn B.; Jerry O.; Leonard C.
formerly of Chugwater; Tom K., Mike H., Deb H. & Harold D. of
Chugwater, and the Red Bird Mission in Kentucky.
Jeff A.; Leonard C.; Harold D.; Tim D.'s family; Carol N.; Tom K.;
the Larry & Barb F. family; Josh F.; Kim McB.; Carol E.; Lanetta C.;
Deb H. family; Bill & Grace S.; Mike H.; our veterans; and the
Chugwater community and school.

June 1st: UMW District Meeting in Cheyenne
June 7-10th: Annual Conference in Ogden, UT
June 16th: Monthly breakfasts at 8:00 a.m.
Men at Tasty Treats
Women at Western Sky's
June 17th: Father's Day Ice Cream Social in Fellowship Hall
June 24th: First combined church service @ Slater Hall.
Pilot's for Christ Presentation durning worship service.

Pastor’s scheduled weeks off
Seventh Week Dates:
June 11-17th
July 30-August 5th
Sept 10-16th
October 29-Nov. 4th
December 26-30th.

By Kathy W., UMW President

The members of the Wheatland UMW met on May 10, 2018, for lunch and a program
by Carolyn F. about “nurturing”. We heart reports from the various committees,
and a review of the Torrington UMW Spring Friendship Tea by Kathy W. & Kathy L.
Rowann reported that box #60 was sent to the Kansas church, and that postage was
more expensive than usual because it was a larger box and was very full. The
group discussed whether to increase the amount budgeted for Project Patricia
but decided we should have enough for this year in the budget. We may need
to increase next year’s amount.

The memorial service for Evelyn McG., Johnny Y.'s mother, was postponed until
May 18 at 3 p.m., because Johnny has been ill. Linda and Johnny are providing
the food, so all we’ll need to do is set up and clean up afterwards. We were
reminded that the Wyoming District Plus 1 will be holding its annual meeting
and a Day Apart on June 1 and 2 in Cheyenne. So far, Kathy W. and Kathy L.
are registered to attend. Plans for the annual Father’s Day Ice Cream Social
on June 17 were discussed and finalized. This year we will be serving ice
cream and root beer from Ace Hardware donated by Julie’s daughter, Janet.
Thanks to Janet and Ace Hardware! We will scoop the ice cream after the WUMC
breakfast on June 16 at about 9:30 a.m. Scoopers should bring their own scoop,
if they don’t like the ones available in the church kitchen. Our guests will
be offered the choice of just ice cream, or a root beer float.

All ladies of the church are invited to attend any of these events. We need
all the help we can get to carry out the activities UMW does at WUMC and in
our community. If you need a ride to any of these activities, please call
Kathy Wilson at 322-1623.

WUMC 125th Anniversary 2019
In 2019 Wheatland United Methodist Church will be celebrating the 125th anniversary of its
organization. We invite anyone in the congregation to help us plan for this momentous
occasion. The first meeting of the ad hoc Anniversary Planning Committee (APC) will be on
June 13, 2018, at 7 p.m. If you have suggestions or ideas you'd like to have considered,
please attend this meeting or contact the office and leave us a note with that idea. If
you want a ride (so you don't have to drive at night), please call Kathy Wilson at 322-1623.
If you have pictures from past years (and can tell us who is in the pictures), we'd love
to have copies.

Our Lay Leader, Kelvin L., will be attending the 2018 Annual Conference in
Ogden, Utah on the 7th-10th this month. Our church has two opportunities
to participate in mission projects there. The first is the Bridge of Love
Offering, where we are encouraged to donate our loose change or bills to
help other churches carry out some large projects. This year’s collection
will support the Methodist Church in Polson, Montana, where they will be
sponsoring a Back to School Wellness Fair, with health, vision, and dental
screenings being among the offerings. The second recipient will be the
Methodist Church in Rocky Ford, Colorado. Their plan is to give an exterior
face lift to five or six houses in the area. Starting May 6th, there will
be a container in the back of the church where you can contribute towards
these worthy projects.

On Friday of Annual Conference, a group of people will be putting together
kits for the UMCOR depot in Salt Lake City. There are three kinds of kits
made at this location: cleaning, school, and hygiene. We would like to see
our congregation gather supplies for the hygiene kits, which Kelvin then will
deliver. As with all of the kits, the requirements are quite specific. If
you would be willing to supply any or all of the components, we have the month
of May to see how many things we can collect to help those who are in need of
some very basic items. We won’t be assembling kits, as that is the project
being handled by a group at the conference. Following is a list of items needed.
Please notice the specific details and DO NOT wash the towels or washcloths, as
they are then considered used and can’t be included.

Hygiene Kit Materials:
1 Hand towel—15”x25” to 17”x27” (Kitchen, cleaning, and microfiber towels not acceptable)
1 Washcloth
1 Toothbrush—Adult size only (Do not remove from original packaging)
6 Adhesive bandages—3/4” to 1” size (Common household Band-Aids)
1 Bath-size soap—3 ounces or larger sizes only (No Ivory or Jergens soap due to moisture
content (Do not remove from original packaging)
1 Comb--needs to be sturdy and have a minimum of 6” of teeth No pocket combs or picks, please
Comb may or may not have a handle
1 Metal nail file or nail clippers—no emery boards, please
1 plastic one gallon sealable bag
$1.00 to purchase toothpaste

Thank you for your willingness to reach out and help those whose needs are greater than our own.

Pilots for Christ Visit
For three months this summer, Wheatland and Chugwater will worship together at Slater Hall starting
at 10:00 a.m. on the fourth Sunday of June, July, and August. This international organization shows
its love for Christ by providing ground and air travel to Wyomingites in need across the state.
Since their start in 2005, Pilots for Christ has completed over 500 missions for Wyoming citizens.
Join us June 24th, when Executive Director, Lynn Ritter will visit our combined-church service in
Slater at Slater Hall to share news about their important work. Discussion will follow. Join us for
this 10:00 a.m. service in Slater. Directions to this location are as follows:
1. head south on I-25
2. exit at Slater Rd.
3. turn left (east)
4. travel approx. 3.5 miles
5. Slater Hall is directly after crossing RR tracks

Pastor’s Office Hours
Pastor Robin will hold office hours at both churches starting Friday, May 25th.
Take note that on weeks off, no office hours will be held.
Wheatland UMC – Friday 9:30-11:30 a.m.
Chugwater UMC – Friday 3:00-5:00 p.m.

We are always in need of volunteers to supply snacks and cookies and volunteers to serve
as monthly liturgist, ushers, felloswhip coordinators and communion stewards. If you
can please put your name on the sign-up sheet in the Fellowship Hall.

**Please remember to write down any meetings, gatherings, etc. on the calendar in the
Fellowship Hall so nothing is forgotten.