Trish’s Experience at the Creature Conference in London

j

CC Trish with young people

Trish met so many amazing people at the Creature Conference include these guys from Cambridge University and Sunniva (far right) from Sweden.

The Creature Conference, a pioneering event which brought together Christian animal rights supporters from the United Kingdom and beyond, was the best conference experience I have ever had. I want to share with you why I felt inspired, motivated, and connected by attending this watershed event. I feel so grateful that I was able to attend.

But first I want to give a shout out to Kathy Dunn, editor of Shepherding All God’s Creatures, an blog and an organization which is doing a great job of encouraging prayer and networking between Christian animal rights activists. Kathy told me about Sarx, the Christian animal welfare organization that produced the Creature Conference. When she told me she was going to the conference, I immediately wanted to go. Through the generous support of our sponsor (who thought it was very important that I was present) I miraculously was able to make the trip across the ocean.

CC At the Coffee Shop (1)

Meeting with my new friends while waiting for the conference doors to open. From left to right: Trish Mikkelson, Kathy Dunn (US), Phil Whitehead (Canada), Phillip Guyott, UK, Brenda (Canada), Marcello Newall (Italy)

Kathy and I were so eager to squeeze every minute of goodness out of event that we arrived early.  I was so happy that I could stay in a hotel room right next to, Kathy and thus it was easy to meet in the morning to pray together.  We  walked to the Oasis Church where the conference was held. Because the doors did not open until 9AM, we sought shelter on this damp, cold day in a coffee shop where some of my new friends (most of them introduced to me by Kathy) joined us.  Welcoming Brenda into our group and getting to hear her story was enriching. I had already gotten to know the two Phils and Marcello through Kathy  arranging to have  dinner with them and other wonderful folks the night before.

After we had a wonderful time of fellowship, we headed over to the Oasis Church where upon entering I felt very welcomed by the smiling volunteers.  There was immediately  a feeling of camaraderie among us. Since most of us feel rather isolated in our Christian environments because we are so different, this was quite rewarding. Immediately I talked to Audrey, an 80 year old animal rights activist from London who shared that she was disappointed that when she went to “demos” there were not many Christians attending.

I happened to sit right in front of a woman who immediately told me she had brought books published by Humane Society of the United State. “I wanted to give these books away as my contribution to the cause,” she said smilingly. After telling me where they were located,  I was glad to get a heads up because the books went fast. Straightaway I went downstairs to the where the refreshments and displays were.

I was delighted to get the books, The Humane Economy: Animal Protection 2.0 and Every Living Thing: How Christian Leaders Are Inspiring All Of Us To Care For Animals .  When I stopped by the Sarx information table and I told the couple that I came all the way from the US, and that I wanted to connect with Daryl Booth. Phil Sital Sing told me how excited he was about working with Daryl, founder of Sarx, “Daryl is an inspiration to us all. He worked so hard on this event and we are proud to help him. I’m sure he will want to get together with you later on this week.” I felt so happy hearing “positive gossip”. And his prophecy was right–Daryl and I got together for coffee and had a great connection the evening before I left to return home.

CC Greeting Booth

Sarx is fortunate to have such enthusiastic supporters serving as trustees: Jenna and Phil Sital Singh

I took some pictures of the various displays and gathered a rich array of free handouts. I was glad to see the various Christian groups who were represented: Anglican Society for the Welfare of Animals, Catholic Concern for Animals, Christian Vegetarian Society UK, Green Christians, and Operation Noah.

I learned later after watching the 3D experience of how chickens are raised and slaughtered, produced by Animal Equality, that the three people running the table were agnostics. I was moved to tears when I experienced up front and close the terrible conditions which were actually the best case scenario. I was touched by the compassion of the man who put the VR set on my head. He saw my distress, and offered to interrupt my experience, but I explained that I need to go through with this.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Oasis Church, where the event was held, was not only the venue but one of the prime supporters.  I enjoyed spending time at their coffee shop and was delighted with the delicious green smoothies which is my usual morning meal. I saw volunteers who had helped at the conference and it was fun to have them recognize me and introduce themselves. One volunteer even told me that I was welcome to stay at his family’s flat the next time I came to London!

When Tim learned about Jesus Vegans, he was very enthusiastic. He was excited to introduce me to his friends.  Earlier I had met Sunniva from Sweden. She had introduced herself to me because of my post on the Creatures Conference Facebook page that I was passionate about community, and this was a common interest of hers. When I saw her as I was talking to the friendly guys from Cambridge, who had invited me to join them for lunch, I invited her to come along.

 

Oasis Church, where the event was held, was not only the venue but one of the prime supporters.  I enjoyed spending time at their coffee shop and was delighted with the delicious green smoothies which is my usual morning meal. I saw volunteers who had helped at the conference and it was fun to have them recognize me and introduce themselves. One volunteer even told me that I was welcome to stay at his family’s flat the next time I came to London!

I loved how the friendly Cambridge students invited Sunniva and I to sit with them during the next key note speakers, and we sat in that same place for the rest of the activities. It felt good to have a sense of belonging. Later they gave me courage as I asked the question, “What part does community play in helping us Christian animal rights activists to do our work?” William Wilberforce was cited as an example of someone who worked in a faith community as well as a physical community where leaders of all stripes lived in the same neighborhood, shared their lives, talked about issues over meals and participated in each others weddings, and milestone celebrations.

The keynote speakers were all inspiring. Instead of having one long keynote speech, there were a variety of short speeches, and each one gave a unique viewpoint so that we could get a big picture of what the animal rights movement looked like in Christendom. Normally I have a hard time sitting still, but as I listened and took electronic notes, I really felt inspired and focused.

 

Oasis Church, where the event was held, was not only the venue but one of the prime supporters.  I enjoyed spending time at their coffee shop and was delighted with the delicious green smoothies which is my usual morning meal. I saw volunteers who had helped at the conference and it was fun to have them recognize me and introduce themselves. One volunteer even told me that I was welcome to stay at his family’s flat the next time I came to London!

CC Trish and Daryl

Daryl Booth was the motivating force behind creating Sarx and the Creature Conference. I feel honored to know him and continue to work with him. He is now on Jesus Vegans advisory board. 

We had a good deal of time to spend in the refreshment and stall room which made it easier for me to network. I kept running into people who wanted to connect with me because Kathy (mentioned above) told a few people about me. I also connected with some of the people at the stalls.  I also made my way to interactive prayer area where I enjoyed a break praying for animals and nature in creative, sometimes artistic ways.

I met Roslyn who also blogs for Shepherding All God’s Creation.  What a sweet soul! Now when I participate in the All God’s Creature’s Prayer Facebook Page, I can envision her kind smile and feel her warmth. Meeting people in person and then connecting online is such an effective way to foster more cooperation.

After the opening keynote speech by Prof. John Berkman, I stayed in the main hall to hear from Tony Campolo. He is one of the few evangelicals who promotes animal rights, Tony inspired us all with his big heart and commitment to helping Christians awaken their compassion for animals.

I met Roslyn who also blogs for Shepherding All God’s Creation.  What a sweet soul! Now when I participate in the All God’s Creature’s Prayer Facebook Page, I can envision her kind smile and feel her warmth. Meeting people in person and then connecting online is such an effective way to foster more cooperation.

The conclusion of the event was the panel discussion where all the keynote speakers came together to answer questions that were submitted by delegates of the conference. One of the questions was, “how many of you are vegan?” Only one was vegan. I was sitting with my Cambridge buddies and I cheered loudly for the vegan, and then felt a bit self-righteous. “How could key note speakers at an animal rights conference not be vegan,” I smugly asked myself.

Steve Chalkey, pastor of Oasis and the moderator throughout the Creature Conference,  gently reminded us not to judge people on the basis of their diet. I was convicted, remembering that even though I knew for years that dairy was really bad for animals, I still loved my cheese pizza and gave into this temptation regularly. I went to Margaret Adams, one of the members of the panel,  afterwards, and apologized for my judgementalness. She was very gracious and immediately offered forgiveness.

After the conference was complete, there was a sense of joy and upliftment that was palpable. I took some more pictures, and said some goodbyes to my new friends. I was so happy that I was able to have this magnificent experience. I knew it was going to be good–but I had no idea how much I would take away from this experience. When I booked my ticket I decided to stay for a week because I had a feeling there would be more adventures to be had after the conference, and I was right. Connecting with members of the Oasis Church, having a follow up meeting with Daryl Booth, getting to know Kathy better by sight seeing around London and elsewhere with her friend, plus having rich experiences at a hostel I stayed at–all would make for another story. Stay tuned!

Thanks for reading. I value your feedback. If you went to the Creature Conference or had a neat experience at another conference let me know in the comments section

Advertisements

The Activism of Christ – Part One

A wonderfully clear article that focuses on the scriptures themselves.

Shepherding All God's Creatures

Jesus Casts Out The Money Changers
By William Hole
Wikimedia Commons

Twice in Jesus ministry He is seen in the role of an activist, protesting in the temple. In the Gospel of John, Jesus goes into the Temple and makes a whip of cords and drives the animals and those selling them out of the temple. He overturns the tables of the money-changers and tells those who are selling doves to get them ‘out of here’. This incident took place during the first Passover season of Jesus public ministry. Many theologians believe that this story is used by John as an illustration of how this Jewish institution is ‘meant to be replaced by Jesus’ (René Kieffer, The Oxford Bible Commentary, edited by John Barton and John Muddiman, published by Oxford University Press, page 965). The Synoptic Gospels speak of a similar protest in the days leading up to the third…

View original post 1,046 more words

He Is Risen!

Very inspiring.

Shepherding All God's Creatures

Internet Photo of the Tomb of Christ

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb.They found the stone rolled away from the tomb,but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them.In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee:‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be…

View original post 665 more words

Permission and Going the Extra Mile

What an excellent article. Well worth reading.

Swords to Plowshares

Whenever I talk about God’s love for animals with a fellow believer, the discussion often hinges on the concept of permission. It becomes about what God permits rather than what God wants. In matters pertaining to stewardship of animals, I have come to notice an almost tangible resistance to doing more than the minimum that is required to get into heaven. This is disheartening to me because in my estimation it holds us back from a greater understanding of God and his awesome power of love for all creation. It also hinders us from giving a more accurate witness toward those who don’t know God and who desperately need salvation in their lives. I have a lot to say on this topic, so let’s begin by addressing the question head-on.

Do we have permission to kill animals and eat them?

“Every moving thing that lives will be food…

View original post 2,844 more words