Each month, the Compassion Consortium offers an essay on a topic related to our tenets. These are authored by the Compassion Consortium Spiritual Team as well as guest writers.
The Birth of a Go(o)d Idea
by Rev. Carol Saunders
You never know when a good idea is going to germinate. The Universe is at the ready to co-create with us whenever we set our minds and hearts to a good one. Such was the case on a windy, Sunday afternoon on November 11, 2018.
A few weeks earlier, I had learned that Victoria Moran was going to be in Chicago for a film screening of A Prayer for Compassion at the Vegan Museum in downtown Chicago. I didn’t know her personally, but on a whim, decided to email and ask if she would be a guest at the spiritual center I led in a suburb about 25 miles north. I was always looking for ways to share the vegan message with my community. I had the idea that in lieu of a traditional Sunday message by the minister, she and I could have a conversation about Spirituality and Eating, and my community could bear witness. She said yes and I was delighted. After the gathering, I drove her to the museum for her dinner engagement. Anyone who knows Victoria can guess that our conversation was full and lively. We shared a Unity background in addition to veganism, and had a lot to talk about!
Unity began as a faith movement at the turn of the nineteenth century. It was founded on profound spiritual principles, including one presence and power (only God), the power of our thoughts, universal love, healing and spiritual practice. Its founders, Myrtle and Charles Fillmore, didn’t just preach stuff. They walked their talk and lived their values. They were ethical vegetarians. They taught people that our relationship with animals mattered to our spiritual development and ability to live ethically, lovingly and peacefully. They opened Kansas City’s first vegetarian restaurant. They published a vegetarian column in Unity magazine. They also published Bibles in a binding made of a leather alternative. Unity’s original Statement of Faith contained these words: “We believe that all life is sacred and that man should not kill or be a party to the killing of animals for food; also that cruelty, war, and wanton destruction of human life will continue so long as men destroy animals.”
Unfortunately, the Unity we know today is a far cry from all that. As Victoria and I sat and talked in my car that afternoon, we shared our passion for bringing this message back to life. When she uttered the words, “It would be great to have a vegan event at Unity Village someday,” I was on it. Yes. This was a God idea. A clear one. In the following days, I gathered some comrades – Lisa Levinson of In Defense of Animals, and Judy Carman, author of Peace to All Beings – and enrolled them in the vision. We became the planning team.
After a year and a half of visioning and planning, then a disappointing postponement in 2020 due to COVID, this God idea is finally coming to fruition this fall. We are calling all spiritually minded vegans, vegetarians and curious omnivores to join us on the sacred grounds of Unity Village on October 1-3, 2021. We will join together for three days of inspiration, learning, renewal and collaboration as we co-create a world that truly does work for all beings on the planet. How can we bring the message of compassion for all to our spiritual communities? What are our blocks? How can we support each other? These are the kinds of inquiries we will be in conversation and collaboration about.
I hope you consider joining us and bringing all that you have to offer – your heart, your ideas and your stories. We will have spiritually centered vegan speakers: Victoria Moran, Will Tuttle, Lisa Kemmerer and Dr. Milton Mills. They will share their unique wisdom and inspiration. We will hold workshops and dialogues on how to effectively bring the message of universal love and kindness to our communities. We will connect and collaborate with others who are both animal sensitive and Spirit centered. And we will conclude with a Sunday service to heal planetary consciousness, awaken humanity and honor our animal brothers and sisters.
By the time this event takes place, it will have been nearly three years since it was conceived as an idea between two people who barely knew each other. This is the cool way the Divine works. “Where two or three gather…there I am in the midst” (Matthew 8:20). We know this will be a huge success because it’s a God idea. And somewhere, the spirits of Charles and Myrtle Fillmore are smiling.
You can learn more about and register for 2021 Vision: A World That Works for All - Vegan Spirituality Forum & Retreat at https://thespiritualforum.org/vegan-retreat.
Rev. Carol Saunders serves on the Advisory Board of the Compassion Consortium. Rev. Carol is an ordained Unity and Interfaith Minister (One Spirit Interfaith Seminary); founder/host of The Spiritual Forum, a podcast ministry in Chicago; author of Wolf and the Lamb, an online ministry to awaken the world to the truth that we are all One; and author/compiler of the booklet, The Forgotten Teachings of Charles Fillmore: How Our Relationship with Animals Connects to Universal Love, Ethical Living, Spiritual Development and World Peace.
JOIN US IN PERSON AT THE VEGAN SPIRITUALITY FORUM & RETREAT IN OCTOBER!
Calling all spiritually minded vegans, vegetarians and curious omnivores! Enjoy three days of inspiration, learning, renewal and collaboration as we co-create a world that works for all beings on the planet. Experience the sacredness of the Unity Village grounds, home of the Unity movement where co-founders Charles and Myrtle Fillmore pioneered and advocated for ethical vegetarianism in the early 1900’s.
Spiritually centered vegan speakers and leaders
Inspirational talks on the connection between our relationship with animals and spiritual living, human social justice issues, world peace, sustainability and feminism
Workshops (including one from the Compassion Consortium!)
Animals and World Religions traveling exhibit guided by curator Dr. Lisa Kemmerer
Viewing and discussion of A Prayer for Compassion documentary
Yoga, meditation, labyrinth, walking trails for renewal, restoration and self-care
Rituals and Sunday service
Event is co-hosted by In Defense of Animals and The Spiritual Forum.