A few months ago, I was named the USA Representative for the Anglican Society for the Welfare of Animals (AWSA), whose purpose is getting animals on the agenda of the Christian Church. Founded over 30 years ago, the organization is called to make Christians and others aware of the need to care for the whole of creation, and in particular God’s creatures, and believes that God has given us a responsibility towards sentient beings with whom we share God’s world. Their activities include the following:
- Encouraging churches to include animal welfare concerns in their prayers.
- Encouraging and helping churches to hold animal blessing services and to be aware of the need to care for God’s creation.
- Through education and lawful action, advancing the conservation and well-being of animals.
- Co-operating with other organizations, religious and secular, that have similar aims.
- Production of Animalwatch (free to members) containing articles and information about animal welfare issues, interests, and events and providing a means by which the members can share ideas, stories, and concerns.
- Publishing a series of pamphlets about animal issues, ensuring that materials are balanced and theologically and scientifically sound.
- Helping to arrange major services and events focusing on animal care.
- Promoting awareness through exhibitions, meetings, talks and preaching.
I’m tremendously proud of this position, because I deeply believe that you can’t love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and soul without also loving God’s creation. The more I learn about the connections between animal abuse and violent crime and the more I learn about the connections between factory farming, cancer, and environmental devastation, the more convinced I’ve become that we have to take animal welfare more seriously.
I was recently able to talk to people about the ASWA at the convention for the Diocese of Tennessee. It was a wonderful day talking about how important and connected our various ministries are. I was appropriately situated next to the table for Episcopal Relief & Development. We talked about how factory farming and fighting poverty are linked, how child abuse and animal abuse are linked. We’re all connected, and everything is spiritual. I also found out the Sewanee has a Religion and the Environment advanced degree, which could be an exciting new chapter in my life-long learning.
Exciting things ahead for our farm!