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Humane Religion Magazine

July - August 1997 Issue

ST. NINIAN’S CHAPEL

“DEDICATED TO THE GLORY OF GOD”

In a book of "Reflections" published in 1996, the Revd. James Thompson, an Anglican Priest and animal activist, tells about the time that he was interviewed for a post in a very affluent district. The Bishop of the Diocese had been showing him and his wife, Doreen, around the beautiful English countryside in which the parish was located.

Revd. Thompson writes that “the Bishop was a well loved man who cordially introduced us to a host of congenial people" These people were committee members of the joint church councils in the area, and they were there to look him over as their potential, religious leader.

It was a gracious gathering in which tea sandwiches and faultless service was accompanied by small talk that included several references to "the darling little chapel" known as St. Ninian's.

St. Ninian's was located within the parish on the grounds of Mar Lodge. The Bishop took James and his wife to see this little gem. It was impressive: they "walked up a hill, past many trees, and suddenly we saw a herd of timid deer that had majestically gathered. Then, as we came

around a further bend of this secluded area, a large Victorian mansion loomed up before us." The Thompson's soon found out what accounted for the herd of deer. They had been allowed the freedom to breed so they could be stalked by the members of Mar Lodge—a hunting club. And the hunting lodge had its very own chapel: St. Ninian's.

The Bishop took them to the chapel. The interior decoration featured a "trophy"—a mounted deer's head. And alongside the remains of this murdered deer, were the coats of arms of those who throughout the centuries had killed—and continued to kill—God's creatures with the blessing of the church. Revd. Thompson was told that he would be expected to officiate at this chapel once a month.

He told the Bishop of his commitment to animals and of his abhorrence of the cruelty inflicted upon them. The Bishop said he understood. That he was sympathetic and in agreement with this position. "HOWEVER", he said, "this is part of their lives. Antagonism would be counter productive. It would do no good. In fact, it would alienate them."

Of course, Revd. Thompson did not receive the appointment. Instead, he and his wife were exiled to the English equivalent of an inner city parish—where they continued to champion the cause of animals. “The post went to the other candidate whose affinities and interests made him more appropriate for the post." #

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