The UU Animal Ministry (UUAM) advocates for the rights of all animals through education, legislation and other peaceful means.  We seek to exclude all forms of neglect and cruelty to animals. We engage in concrete actions that bring about change at the individual, congregational, community, and societal level.

Main Activities of the Animal Ministry:

  • Education: We coordinate with Religious Education (RE) to engage the children utilizing their programs (e.g., Hogwarts), through books and speakers (e.g., Carolina Wildlife Care).  In addition, we have festivals such as the Blessing of the Animals.  Through Meatless Mondays and our various vegan events, cooking classes, and recipe sharing, we encourage lifestyle changes directly related to reducing animal cruelty.
  • Legislation: We lobby our SC legislators on bills directly related to animal welfare.  We attend legislative committee and subcommittee meetings and help to publicize animal welfare causes both within and outside of the congregation.
  • Charitable: The Animal Ministry supports Pawmetto Lifeline and other animal welfare groups in the midlands by publicizing and participating in their events
CYRE Participation
Besides the adult congregants, we would welcome other interested CYRE kids with a keen interest in animal welfare and a desire to act upon these interests, to start coming to our meetings. No obligations, just come and see if you are interested. (Sounds like a commercial?!). Contact Anita Grossman if interested.
Our current “junior” teen member is Laura Culler, but there is nothing junior about her very dedicated and active participation in the Animal Ministry! Our former teen representative, Sophia Johnson, has moved on to USC, but has not slowed down in her ardor for protecting animals as evidenced by this article.
That Sophia – she’s the best! We sure do miss her.

Recent Activities

Cotton Branch Animal Sanctuary Visit

On Saturday, April 27, 2019, nearly thirty UUCC members and friends traveled to Batesburg-Leesville to tour Cotton Branch Animal Sanctuary, visiting the animals, feeding them, and enjoying them in their natural environment.
Cotton Branch Farm Animal Sanctuary provides a safe haven for abandoned, abused, neglected, and elderly farm animals. There is a lack of sanctuary for farm animals, who make up 98% of the animals killed in the US each year.
“We exist to help those animals,” said Evan Costner, who led our group’s tour, and manages CB with his husband Josh.
The visit was organized by the UUCC Animal Ministry Committee. Evan reminded us to make compassionate choices in our everyday lives when it comes to what we eat, wear, and use for entertainment.
“By reducing demand for animal products, we can reduce the number of animals in need of rescue, and we can help reduce the number one cause of negative impact on our environment: animal agriculture,” added Evan.
Whole Foods of Columbia donated a large amount of produce to help he animals, and the group really enjoyed feeding them.

Cotton Branch Animal Sanctuary trip

Movie/Potluck
We gathered on Friday night, March 8, 2019 to watch the informative movie, “Eating You Alive – one bite at a time”.  Those who came watched attentively and participated in the lively discussion that followed the movie.

Stacy Shepanek who heads up an organization called, Vegan Outreach was a wonderful resource after the movie and not only discussed practical ways to adopt a plant based diet, but also answered questions from the audience that were specific to individual concerns. One idea that came out of this discussion is to start having cooking lessons again, in the same fashion as we did a few years ago.

Another real “star” of the evening was the wonderful spread of plant based food that filled two tables in Animal Ministry Potluck tablethe social hall and included everything from sandwiches and fruit to a wide array of plant based desserts, with a huge bowl of popcorn in the center – and more!

A lot of work went into pulling this evening off from the setup to staying late to clean up the social hall. The chair of the Animal Ministry would like to thank committee members: Patty Drews, Linda Brennison, Susan and Larry Siegel, and Laura Culler. A special shout out goes to Nancie Shillington-Perez, who although not officially a committee member, arrived early to help and was the last one to leave! And just as we have been so very fortunate in the past to enjoy, once again Joan Watterson jumped in at the clean up time and helped us all to get home a little earlier!

Anita Grossman
Animal Ministry, Chair

Blessing of the Animals

On a gorgeous sunny afternoon on November 4th, 2018, pets and their owners gathered outside at UUCC with eager anticipation to await the Eighth Annual Blessing of the Animals.
Minister sings at Blessing of the AnimalsThey would not be disappointed, for our minister, Candace Chellew-Hodge treated the ceremony with dignity and respect, as well as interjecting humor when it was appropriate. In the first part of her talk she remembered the animals who could not be present, for whatever reason, and then went on to bless those creatures who are suffering, hunted, abused and those who live in fear. After this prayer, she changed tempo and  shared her wonderful musical  talents with us, and performed a song she had written especially for the occasion.
Next came the really emotive and compassionate part of the service where Reverend Chellew-Blessing of the AnimalsHodge invited members of the group to bring their animals up individually for what turned out to be a very special and personal talk and blessing. A sort of peace passed over each animal (even my rambunctious Harry!) as she stroked the animal and gazed into his/her eyes while speaking softly.
Each animal was allowed to choose a toy, compliments of the Animal Ministry to distract and occupy him/her at the event, as well as to take home. Cat toys (fabric fish with catnip sewn into them) were taken home by their owners to their cats. (Compliments of the talents of Marie Hunt!).
Blessing of the AnimalsA rather splendid table was laid out with a variety of treats for dogs and cats as well as an abundance of people vegan treats of homemade cookies, chips and other delectables.
This event could not have been organized, publicized and executed without the hard work of the members of the Animal Ministry. Anita Grossman, Chair Person of the group, wishes to extend a special shout out to Linda Brennison and Patty Drews, who each worked Blessing of the Animalscourageously throughout this process, and attended to each detail with precision. Anita also wishes to thank Marilyn Miss, who arrived 2 hours early and stayed an hour after everyone went home, making sure all attendees signed the attendance sheet! Thanks also to Laura Culler for pitching in and being the “go to” person as we needed special tasks completed. And last but not least, she wishes to thank Rita Marie Rhodes, our newest member, who contributed food, dog bowls and was a tremendous help throughout the ceremony.

Blessing of the AnimalsAnd last but not least, this event could not have taken place without the expert skills of Bill Dolley who set up our tables and banner and then afterwards, returned to UUCC to take everything down. Perfect job, Bill! We so appreciate what you do for us!
Anita Grossman
Chair, Animal Ministry

Sophia Does it Again!
Sophia Storlazzi, former member of the Animal Ministry, and activist, was heavily involved in a “Sustainable Thanksgiving” program that was sponsored by many groups on and off of campus.  Unfortunately, she was not mentioned in the article, but she was making us proud nevertheless!