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Church for animals? New interfaith community advocates for the more-than-human world

Compassion Consortium

Amidst the global suffering of a worldwide pandemic, environmental ecocide, and industrialized abuse of animals, there comes a call for compassionate action. The Compassion Consortium is a new spiritual community created to serve the needs of vegans, vegetarians, animal rights activists, and others who care about and advocate for animals and the planet. Its founding members are Interfaith minister Rev. Erika Allison; Rev. Sarah Bowen, a Dean at One Spirit Interfaith Seminary; Interfaith ministerial candidate William Melton; and Victoria Moran, author, podcaster, and producer of Thomas Jackson’s 2019 documentary, A Prayer for Compassion.

“We were perplexed that many of our friends who value the justice, unconditional love, and mercy called for in the world’s wisdom traditions and social justice movements often don’t extend those values beyond humans,” reflects Rev. Bowen. “Luckily, across the globe, many people are waking up to the challenges facing other-than-human animals and the planet. It can be lonely, though, if you feel unsupported. The Compassion Consortium is a warmhearted, understanding community where we want you to feel comfortable sharing all the facets of your being—head, heart, and spirit—as expressed through your personal spirituality, advocacy, and activism.”

Monthly spiritual services are not only interfaith but also interspecies. All services are held on the fourth Sunday of the month at 4 pm ET through Zoom. Humans of all religions and spiritual traditions are welcomed, and their animal companions are encouraged to attend, as well. Each service includes immersive spiritual practices—such as musical reflection, meditation, prayer, and lovingkindness—as well as a conversation with a special guest.

For the first service on April 25, 2021, Moran will interview Bruce Friedrich, a Roman Catholic who is the co-founder and executive director of The Good Food Institute, a nonprofit organization that focuses on reforming the global food system while protecting the environment, promoting global health, and preventing food insecurity and animal cruelty. People interested in attending can register at compassionconsortium.org.

The Compassionate Book and Film Club will debut on May 11 at 8 pm also through Zoom. Bowen will interview Rev. Fletcher Harper, an Episcopalian priest, about his book GreenFaith: Mobilizing God’s People to Save the Earth. A Q&A will follow. 

Participants in the Compassion Consortium come from a wide variety of religious and secular backgrounds, including Jewish, Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, New Thought, Interfaith, Interspiritual, as well as the unaffiliated and “spiritual-but-not-religious.” Within the community, they ascribe to a shared set of ten “Tenets of Agreement” based on the values of compassion and service. The Tenets are publicly available.

The Consortium is also a welcoming and affirming community. Rev. Allison explains, “As a queer person, I spent my life search for an image of God that was bigger and more inclusive than the one I was given as a youth. When I finally met this God, I was thrilled to see that all beings were embraced. I’m excited to be part of a spiritual community that truly treats all beings—queer, straight, feathered, furry—with love and compassion.”

The Consortium’s mission is assisted by advisory board members who represent a broad swathe of vegan, vegetarian, human rights, animal rights, and environmental organizations, as well as myriad faith traditions, including:

  • Fred Beasley II (NYC Hip Hop Is Green)
  • Jeffrey Cohan (Jewish Veg)
  • VeganEvan and his mother, VeganShannon (Animal Hero Kids and veganevan.com)
  • Gwenna Hunter (Vegans of LA; Vegans for Black Lives Matter)
  • Carissa Kranz (BeVeg International; Laws That Matter videocast on Jane Unchained News Network)
  • Lisa Levinson (Interfaith Vegan Coalition)
  • Robbie Lockie (Plant Based News)
  • Gopal Patel (Bhumi Global)
  • Martin Rowe (Lantern Books; BrighterGreen)
  • Carol Saunders (Unity and Interfaith Minister: The Spiritual Forum).

Compassion Consortium is a non-sectarian spiritual community that is interfaith, interspiritual, and interspecies. Monthly services, book and film clubs, fellowship, and resources for vegans, vegetarians, animal rights activists, and all humans who care about and advocate for animals and the planet.

compassionconsortium.org

For an interview with founding member Rev. Sarah Bowen, contact (845) 232-0605 or email [email protected]

To register for events, go to www.compassionconsortium.org

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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Religion News Service or Religion News Foundation.