Volume 1: 1977 – 1989

Welcome to Unique and Different: A Memoir of a Wyoming Journey. This is a two volume set describing a 43 year journey through my time as Episcopal clergy in a state that is indeed unique and different. This journey begins in 1977 in the Little Snake River Valley communities of Dixon and Baggs and works its way through Lander, the Wind River Indian Reservation, Cody and then throughout the entire state. Volume 1 begins with my arrival in Wyoming and the challenges and adventures of moving to one of the most rural communities in America. It continues with personal experiences I’ve encountered moving to a depressed community of Lander and the unique culture of the Wind River Reservation in Fremont County. This volume concludes with our move to Cody in 1990. Often people view clergy as nice people who serve their congregations and meet the needs of people within small circles of their local towns. The point of this memoir is to show that to be a successful clergy you must rise above this image by taking congregations beyond their parochial settings and becoming involved with the many issues facing both the local community and the state at large. Finding success in this effort does not come easy.

Volume 1 will introduce you to one of the most unique places in Wyoming located at the southernmost part of Carbon County. It is truly one of the last vestiges of what many think of as the “old west”. After this five year sojourn the Murphy family moved on to Lander, the county seat of Fremont County. Upon arrival we joined a community that was hit by financial depression and struggling to create for itself a new identity. Over the years this has happened and Lander is becoming one of the most desirable communities in the state. Part of our seven year adventure there includes my personal ministry to the Wind River Reservation and in particular the Shoshone people centered near Fort Washakie. In setting out at the beginning of my Wyoming adventure I made a commitment to do ministry in a unique and different manner and my ministry has lived up to that pledge in all of these communities.

I invite you to join me in this adventure. This is a story telling book and you will find some of these stories to be profound while others will be humorous. They will explore new ways of doing ministry in a traditional setting while exposing you to some of the most fascinating people who make this all possible. Note that there is no index but rather a list of those people who are an integral part of this memoir.

Volume 2: 1990 – 2020

Welcome to Volume 2 of Unique and Different: A Memoir of a Wyoming Journey. This work continues my personal 43 year journey as an Episcopal clergy in the state of Wyoming.

After completing what I believe were 13 successful years of leading congregations in Carbon County, Fremont County and the Wind River Indian Reservation, the Murphy family moves on to Cody and Park County. Here we make our home as I continue what I call a unique and different kind of ministry not only to the Cody community but to the state at large. Cody is best known as a tourist town close to the East entrance of Yellowstone National Park. It plays on the legacy of its founder William “Buffalo Bill” Cody of Western history lore. But it is much more than this. It is a town that has grown considerably over my 30 years here and its year-round residents encounter the same issues as do other communities in this state. As Rector of Christ Episcopal Church for fourteen years, I will tell stories of how this church has become a successful model for other congregations in an era when locally based churches are declining not only in Wyoming but throughout the nation.

After serving as the church’s rector I decided to re-create my style of ministry to expand what we call “the ministry” to a wider population where churches often do not play a part. I will cover my five years of being Director of the Wyoming Association of Churches serving as an ecumenical leader addressing many of the social, environmental and spiritual issues of a state in constant search for its ever changing identity. As in the first volume, I will make the point that success for the church must be found by getting congregations out of relying just on their buildings but also taking ministry outside the walls to those we are called by our faith to serve. As you will see this requires new models of ministry that will indeed be unique and different.

This two-volume memoir is designed to offer colorful stories about the state of Wyoming, some of its memorable people and a look at how churches in rural America can discover new ways of doing the work they are called to do. This work takes us to the present time. Life is ongoing and life’s dramas continue to play out. Possibly you will find yourself in one of these dramas. As in Volume 1, there is no index. Instead there is a listing of many of those people who have played a role in my adventure.

Enjoy,
Warren Murphy

Bio

Warren Murphy is an Episcopal clergyman who has served in Wyoming for over forty three years. In Unique and Different he tells the story of this adventurous journey as both a church pastor and one who has been intimately involved with many of the state's issues over this time of recent history. In this memoir he describes a journey of coming to Wyoming and involving himself in the lives of residents from throughout the state beginning in the tiny town of Dixon and continuing in Lander, the Wind River Reservation and in his present home in Cody. He is a graduate of Bridgewater College in Virginia and the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He is the author of On Sacred Ground: A Religious and Spiritual History of Wyoming which in 2011 won the “best non-fiction history award” by the Wyoming Historical Society. He is an aficionado of Western history and exploring Wyoming's backcountry trails.

Contact the Author

Also by Warren Murphy

On Sacred Ground: A Religious and Spiritual History of Wyoming
Wyoming has a colorful history and has played a significant role in the development of that part of America we call “the West.” However, a good part of that history has yet to be told. On Sacred Ground: A Religious and Spiritual History of Wyoming tells the story about how people of faith contributed in shaping the state’s future. People of diverse faith traditions, religious denominations, congregations and individual spiritual leaders all left an imprint on Wyoming’s identity and character. Their stories are many and varied. This book is about those stories and those who participated in them.

For more information please visit onsacredgroundbook.com.

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