If you’ve attended church or spiritual gatherings at any time during your life, you know that compassion isn’t always extended to animals – especially those who’ve been exploited, harmed or killed for human consumption.
A women-led coalition is changing that.
The Compassion Consortium is a new, non-sectarian 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 Rev. Sarah Bowen, a Dean at One Spirit Interfaith Seminary; Rev. Erika Allison, Interfaith minister; Victoria Moran, author, podcaster, and producer of Thomas Jackson’s 2019 documentary, A Prayer for Compassion; and William Melton, Interfaith ministerial candidate.
“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,” says 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 you can feel comfortable sharing all the facets of your being―head, heart, and spirit—as expressed through your personal spirituality, advocacy, and activism.”
Virtual monthly spiritual services will kick off next month. These will be interfaith, interspiritual and interspecies.
Humans of all religions and spiritual traditions are welcome to join in, and yes, you’re encouraged to bring your animal companions too.
Each service will include immersive spiritual practices—such as musical reflection, meditation, prayer, and loving kindness—as well as a conversation with a special guest.
At the first service on April 25, Moran, host of the Main Street Vegan Podcast on Unity Radio, will interview Bruce Friedrich, a Roman Catholic who is the co-founder and executive director of The Good Food Institute.
All services are held on the fourth Sunday of the month at 4pm ET through Zoom. “We chose this time because we know that, in addition to providing a spiritual home for those looking for one, we can also be a spiritual second home for people who are already part of a faith community but want an auxiliary one that honors their vegan or interspecies sensibilities,” says Moran.
In addition to the monthly services, the Compassionate Book and Film Club will debut on May 11 at 8pm ET also through Zoom. Bowen will interview Rev. Fletcher Harper, an Episcopalian priest, about his book GreenFaith: Mobilizing God’s People to Save the Earth.
Services offered include pastoral counseling and companion animal grief counseling, animal chaplaincy, and animal Reiki and TTouch holistic healing.
A welcoming, affirming and inclusive community
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 10 “Tenets of Agreement” based on the values of compassion and service, with vegan living at the core.
The Consortium is also a welcoming and affirming community.
“As a queer person, I spent my life searching for an image of God that was bigger and more inclusive than the one I was given as a youth,” says Allison, author of Gay the Pray Away and survivor of ‘conversion therapy’ a cruel and unethical practice used by some religious organizations that tries to convert LGBTIQ people to become heterosexual.
“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.”
Find out more about The Compassion Consortium.