If you are frustrated, as I am, with the slow progress to improve the lives of minorities in Billings, take note and take heart: Good things are happening at First Congregational Church UCC in downtown Billings.
Spearheading these efforts are the Rev. Mike Mulberry and Associate Pastor Lisa Harmon. Working with them during the past two years, I wish to express my gratitude and admiration for their work. Let’s note that their mission is supported by the church’s board of trustees and the congregation as a whole. Their efforts have been mainly on three fronts: Native Americans, the homeless, and the LGBTQ+ community. Regarding Native Americans, the church has recently housed all Native-centered recovery meetings, assisted by Josiah Hugs who began the “Wellbriety” movement and a grief support group. Other projects included powwow dance lessons, sewing, beading and the “community feed” following the MMIW march.
For the homeless, great strides have been made by cooperating with MarCee Neary of the Crisis Center in bringing more than 300 homeless into this church and other downtown churches during the past winter. And, to cap these activities, during the non-discrimination ordinance debates, the church accommodated many who participated in the city council meetings, it created a new, safe space for LGBTQ+ community to socialize, and invited Adrian Jawort, a Native Two-Spirit person, to preach love and acceptance for the community.
Kudos to First Church for its efforts on behalf of the oppressed and the disadvantaged. May its sacred work serve as a model for other houses of prayer and civic organizations.