The Fellowship of Life
Further to Don Gwillim's reflections on taking vegetarianism to the Churches (The Ark 213), your readers may be interested to know of a recent pre-cursor to the Christian Vegetarian Association of the UK.
In 1973, the Fellowship of Life was founded by evangelical Christian, Margaret Lawson (1919-2006). The network whose early Patrons included Scottish broadcaster and theologian the Rev. Prof. William Barclay, presented the Christian case for vegetarianism via letters and (wherever means would permit) small advertisements in Anglican and Church of Scotland publications during the 1970's and 80's.
In 1989, Margaret Lawson retired from the position of Honorary Secretary and the role was embraced by Clare and Tom Harral, whose involvement in the animal rights movement included founding the 'Veggies' catering collective and protesting against battery hen units run by the Sisters of Our Lady of the Passion, in Daventry, Northamptonshire.
During the 1990's the FoL newsletters largely served to inform grassroots activists of spiritual developments within the animal protection movement and inspire activism among non-secular campaigners. However, the central purpose of the FoL, for over three decades, has been to awaken the Christian conscience to the real cost of slaughter; in that animal lives are relentlessly and pitilessly squandered at the expense of authentic spirituality.
As the twenty first century got underway, it became clear to anyone with a serious focus on broaching the subject of vegetarianism within the Churches that 'Veg4Lent' afforded a particular zeitgeist to harness the efforts of a new generation of campaigners. The Veg4Lent team (which comprised several strategists over a two year period) and active support base (organised by the CVA representative in Britain, Don Gwillim) realised that the time had come to present vegetarianism to every denomination throughout the year. In September 2004, the CVAUK was officially announced while the Fellowship of Life became somewhat redundant and often associated with the New Age movement.
Since the late 1960's, hundreds of animal rights/welfare/liberation/protection societies have arisen in Britain alone. Indeed dozens of Christian organisations (some of them highly accomplished) have existed and become duly forgotten despite the opportunity which the internet presents to harness their experience, ideas, wisdom and wider campaigning background.
In 2006, a comprehensive Fellowship of Life website was created upon the passing of Margaret Lawson by The Mary T. and Frank L. Hoffman Family Foundation which manages the website of Catholic Concern for Animals among many other kindred societies. The purpose of the (post-CVAUK) FoL website is essentially to provide an archive of Church-related resource material from animal rights and Christian publications between the 1970's to '90's. The process is, perhaps, halfway towards completion but already comprises the presentation of over 100 articles and other items of acute practical pertinence to those who regularly plead with the Churches on behalf of animals. A large proportion of the content stems from the Catholic press and members of CCA are likely to be surprised by the extent and incisiveness of what has been published in the past.
The FoL still maintains stocks of leaflets which are available for a small donation or in the case of recent flyers, to print-out via the website at: www.all-creatures.org/fol For further information from Clare and Tom, please write to: The Fellowship of Life, 43 Braichmelyn, Bethesda, Bangor, Gwynedd, LL57 3RD.
The Ark (Spring 2010 edition)
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