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They Practice What They Preach

Sunday, January 25, 2004
The Star Ledger www.nj.com

"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 Free Friday."

"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.

Forming links

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 overcome."

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," Fredericks said.

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 issues:

  • 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 events.
  • Hold a vegetarian dinner.
  • Hold pet food drives.
  • Honor community members who have shown kindness to animals.
  • Support animal welfare with letters to newspapers and legislators.

    For individuals:

  • Think about the impact of food purchases on animals and focus on a plant-based diet -- grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables.
  • 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 similar organizations.

    "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 [email protected].

    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] "Concerning Animals" is located online at www.nj.com/living/ledger/index.ssf?fourteendays.  

  • Your Comments are Welcome

    God's Creatures Ministry is committed to spreading God's compassion to all He has made based on The Scriptures. Although we are a Christian Ministry, we encourage all to have their own animal welfare committee in their community. We extend our resources to those who would like to learn more or begin their own God's Creatures Ministry as an extension of us. God created us to have a vegetarian diet and commissioned us to protect His animals. Instead, we have exploited them for our entertainment, fashion, appetite and useless, torturous research. These creatures have the right to live as they were created to live. Because we live IN this world, but are not OF this world, we strive to bring God's mercy and justice to all. We live in God's Kingdom now where Jesus, The Sacrificial Lamb, The Prince of Peace, The Lion of Judah reigns. We look forward to that day when all of creation will be 'set free from slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God' (Romans 8:21) where a little child will lead and guide God's creatures (see Isaiah 11:5-9).

    This site is hosted and maintained by:
    The Mary T. and Frank L. Hoffman Family Foundation
    Thank you for visiting all-creatures.org.

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