Letter from the Vicar (October 2007)
Year by year at Harvest Festival we celebrate the goodness of God’s creation. This year we are going to focus in particular on God’s animal creation.
How much richer our world is because of the presence of other animals besides ourselves. Both the Bible and modern science remind us of the interdependence of every element within creation and in a post-Darwinian world we certainly cannot elevate ourselves above the rest of the animal kingdom. We know only too well that we are related to other members of that kingdom.
It just so happens that Animal Welfare Sunday, promoted by the Anglican Society for the Welfare of Animals, is on 7 October. This society reminds us that we have a God-given “responsibility towards sentient beings with whom we share God’s world. The Bible has given us ‘dominion’, not ‘domination’ over animals.”
Many animals in our world are ill-treated or badly cared for. I believe that animals can be used for human purposes and am neither vegetarian nor opposed to justifiable animal research. But even animals which we eventually kill to eat should be treated humanely and there are certainly methods of farming which may need to be questioned from a Christian perspective. Similarly, research on animals should only occur when it is strictly necessary and should be done in ways that inflict minimum pain and distress. There are, of course, other issues related to animal welfare such as blood/field sports about which there are mixed opinions in the Church as in society.
Many of us keep animals as pets and they bring us great love and comfort. So this Harvest Festival, I am inviting as many of you as wish to bring your pets to Church for a special Pet Service! Any reasonable animal is welcome (no boa constrictors or crocodiles, please)! In the course of the service they can receive a blessing and we shall commit ourselves to carding for all creatures great and small.