On November 12 2006, for the first time, their Service in Celebration and Remembrance of Animals at the York Unitarian Chapel in Saint Saviourgate, was an Interfaith occasion.

Nine faiths and spiritual paths were represented: Bahai, Buddhist, Catholic, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Pagan, Quaker and Unitarian.

This lovely and light Unitarian chapel, dating back to 1692, is the oldest non-conformist place of worship in York. The minister, Margaret Kirk and organisers, Rowena Field and Adrian Lovett, made us very welcome and there were some forty-three members of the congregation, of which one was a hamster (asleep), two were a hen and a cockerel (awake, clucking and crowing during the musical interludes) and four were quiet canine worshippers.

Music was provided by Heidrun Althans (flute), David Hammond (piano) and Julie Harwill (accordeon).

The Buddhist representative, Lorenza Cangiano, is the York Bear Support Group coordinator and a collection was made for the Animals Asia Foundation, for their work in rescuing Moon Bears from bile-extraction farms.

Contributions included readings from diverse scriptures, the story of St. Francis, an explanation of the totem and power animals of the pagans and as this was Remembrance Sunday – reflections on The Animals War by Margaret Kirk, thoughts inspired by her visit to the London exhibition described by Judith Treanor in our current Newsletter.

Candles were lit for all the faiths, for companion animals we have loved and lost and messages were placed on the remembrance board.

We were very happy to participate in an important and social occasion and hope that this is just the first of many. QCA pursues a committed interfaith policy, and we are especially happy to work with our Unitarian friends, as they also share this interest.

Their current Newsletter reveals that, as a preparation for this service, the Inter-faith group discussed how different faiths consider animals, and in December, they plan to attend Sufi readings in St. John College in York. An Asian Evening at the end of November will feature Indian food and will raise money for the Unitarian Church in Madras.

Thanks to all at the Chapel!

Marian and Khalid Hussenbux.