Interfaith. Interspiritual. Interspecies.
An Interfaith spiritual center for animal advocates
Some people say that all genuine intentions come to pass, even if they take a long, l-o-n-g time. Have you seen that in your life? I do. One of the places where it’s shown up is in the Compassion Consortium, an Interfaith spiritual center for animal advocates, founded in April 2021 by Interfaith ministers William Melton (he’s my husband), Sarah Bowen (photographed above left), and Erika Allison, plus me as the token layperson.
I certainly have an undergraduate degree in religious studies with a comparative religions emphasis. Even before getting that, I’d aspired to be a Unity minister and, at nineteen, was the youngest person ever accepted into their ministerial program. But I was suffering with my binge-eating disorder, gained 60 pounds between April and September, and was too embarrassed to take my place in class. Instead, I moved to Illinois and worked in the library of the Theosophical Society for a year-and-a-half. In other words: my heart was in the right place, but my life was a mess. That can happen.
So, fast forward quite a bit…It’s 2019 and William surprises the heck out of me by telling me he wants to attend seminary and study what the world’s religions have to say about non-human beings and why they seem to have missed out on the opportunity to champion these other creatures that most admit are beloved of the same Creator. The surprise came because I was always the one delving into spirituality; William had been agnostic and disinterested in such matters. Well, things change. So do people.
Rev. Sarah Bowen was William’s dean at the OneSpirit Interfaith Seminary in New York City. The author of Spiritual Rebel was also Vegan, an animal chaplain, a huge proponent of animal rights, and she’d read a couple of my books. Funny how things work, right? Anyhow, William had the idea for the Compassion Consortium, I came up with the title (that is often my job…), and with Rev. Sarah and Rev. Erika, we do “church” via Zoom on the 4th Sunday of every month, 4 pm Eastern Time. (We chose that time to accommodate people who have worship services in their own tradition on Saturday or on Sunday morning.)
In addition, we hold Compassionate Book Nights and Compassionate Film Nights, special members’ events and, under Rev. Sarah’s direction, the Compassion Consortium Animal Chaplaincy Training Program is a certification course for those who wish to work with humans who love animals and animals who are sick or in trouble. Please check out all our goings-on at CompassionConsortium.org.
Have you ever noticed how comfortably the word ‘ritual’ nestles inside the word ‘spirituality’?
—from Younger by the Day
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