Sunday, January 25, 2004
The Star Ledger
"THE LORD IS GOOD to all, compassionate to every
creature," from Psalm 145:9, is highlighted on the brochure for God's
Creatures Ministry in Wayne. Based on the concept that God does indeed
care about animals, three years ago, Jan Fredericks founded the group to
help animal causes.
Fredericks is a licensed counselor, with a master's
degree in Christian education from Marywood University in Scranton.
While the nucleus of GCM is comprised primarily of Christians,
Fredericks wants it known that other religions are more than welcome.
"We encourage other religions to participate," she assured. "Right now,
we are trying to reach out more to the Jewish community."
Stewardship in action
"We are not a fanatical fringe group, but prefer to
call ourselves flexible," Fredericks said. To emphasize the point, after
last Thanksgiving, several volunteers stood along Route 46 with posters
protesting the killing of animals for fur coats in connection with "Fur
"Because we were demonstrating peaceably, many people
gave us a thumb's up, or beeped their horns and waved. One guy even
stopped to show his agreement and wound up coming to our annual
vegetarian dinner," she said.
During the recent state bear hunt, volunteers also
staged a peaceful protest, but, Fredericks emphasized: "You don't have
to wave placards if that's not your thing."
For a few years, Frederick lived in Pennsylvania
hunting country where she became concerned about what she saw as the
cavalier treatment of animals. "God puts animals in our care. He wants
us to protect them and be good stewards," she said.
When she returned to her family home in Wayne several
years ago to care for her mother, Fredericks transformed her compassion
for animals into action by creating the non-profit group, gathering
like-minded people to serve on the board.
Through a friend in Pennsylvania, she became
acquainted with the Rev. Regina Hyland in Sarasota, Fla., an animal
advocate in her ministry, who became a member of the GCM board.
In an e-mail, Hyland wrote: "... The work we do is an
important part of a spiritual evolution, manifesting itself with those
who understand that concern, compassion and love must characterize our
relationships with both human and animal beings. Animals are among the
least powerful and most abused of God's creatures. What is done to them
cannot be separated from other forms of abuse and cruelty that must be
Board member Mary Sepede of Wayne is a nurse at St.
Barnabas Hospital in Livingston. "Nursing is my 'real job,' but I devote
a lot of extra time to GCM and I'm also on the board of Friends of Wayne
Animals," Sepede said. "I feel strongly that churches can and should do
more to display compassion for animals."
St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals, is
Sepede's inspiration. "He exemplified compassion toward animals and
believed in our stewardship to animals," she said.
"We are opposed to exploiting animals in any way,"
Not surprisingly, her group also disparages hunting as
a sport. "In biblical times, people had to hunt for survival. Not
anymore. The Bible says we have dominion over animals, but I like to
compare that to the books of Judges and Kings. Some leaders were good
and some were bad. If we're supposed to have dominion over animals,
we're going to have some people who are good stewards and those who will
exploit animals. Genesis 2:15 says we're to be good stewards of God's
creation," Fredericks said.
Ways to help
While she is employed as a counselor to elderly
nursing home residents, Fredericks said she finds herself "more involved
every day in this ministry."
Fredericks said she'd like to see houses of worship
create a similar ministry or animal committee to address some of these
Teach animal compassion in classrooms and encourage
pastors, priests and rabbis to promote animal welfare from the pulpit.
Pass out literature in public places and at public
Hold a vegetarian dinner.
Hold pet food drives.
Honor community members who have shown kindness to
Support animal welfare with letters to newspapers and
Think about the impact of food purchases on animals
and focus on a plant-based diet -- grains, legumes, fruits and
Be a foster caregiver to a dog or cat.
Volunteer at your local shelter/rescue group.
Help individual animals.
The group's Web site --
www.godscreaturesministry.org -- was
created by Frank L. Hoffman, a retired Methodist minister from New York.
His own Web site --
www.all-creatures.org -- lists many
"All too often, churches fail to extend love and
compassion to the whole of creation, which includes humans, animals and
the environment," Hoffman said. "God's Creatures Ministry is a beacon of
light to remind us how important unconditional love and compassion
contribute to true peace in this world."
For further information, contact GCM at (973)
694-5155, write to P.O. Box 322, Wayne, N.J. 07474 or e-mail
Next week: Famed novelist Belva Plain shares her
passion for animals.
Contact Joan Lowell Smith at P.O. Box 302, Garwood,
N.J. 07027 or e-mail [email protected]om. "Concerning Animals" is located