MEDIA RELEASE: Award Ceremony on Sunday - Author & Activist Win Sermon Contest

MEDIA RELEASE: Award Ceremony on Sunday - Author & Activist Win Sermon Contest

SAN RAFAEL, Calif. (Oct. 27, 2023)In Defense of Animals’ Interfaith Vegan Coalition has announced Dr. Will Tuttle and Timothy J. Verret, posthumously, as the winners of its first-ever Sermon/Spiritual Presentation Contest. An official public Sermon Contest Award Ceremony will take place at 1 p.m. PT. on Sunday, October 29 on Zoom during V-COP 15: Vegan Convergence of the Peoples


Dr. Will Tuttle won the award in the Vegan category — how your faith supports or encourages a vegan lifestyle. Timothy J. Verret won the award in the Compassion for All Animals category — how your faith embraces compassion for all beings. 

Winner Timothy J. Verret passed away and will receive the award posthumously. Fellow Creation Care Church members will accept the award on his behalf and bestow the prize to Good Acres Sanctuaries as a donation toward its noble work for animals. 

Watch the winning sermons in full here:

“The two winning sermons illuminate the interconnected nature of life on Earth and how all animals belong in our circle of compassion,” said Lisa Levinson, of In Defense of Animals and co-founder of the Interfaith Vegan Coalition. “We are delighted to offer these sermons to people of all faiths and spiritual practices as a means to spread the message of compassion for all beings far and wide. Through watching these teachings, the unique soul of each domestic, farmed, and wild animal is revealed and along with it, our responsibility to leave them in peace.” 

Religious, spiritual, and lay applicants delivered their sermons before a religious, spiritual, or community group between June 30, 2021 to December 31, 2022. Interfaith Vegan Coalition member organizations reviewed the contest entries and voted on the winners over the summer of 2023.

Seasoned leaders and new voices from diverse backgrounds and wisdom traditions applied in two categories: how your faith/practice supports a vegan lifestyle and how your faith/practice embraces compassion for all animals. Winners in both categories received an award and a cash prize of $500. 

The contest was sponsored by Interfaith Vegan Coalition, Unitarian Universalist Animal Ministries (UUAM), and Jewish Veg and was modeled directly after the longstanding annual UUAM sermon contest with assistance from coalition member Shamayim: Jewish Animal Advocacy.

“The Interfaith Vegan Coalition’s commitment to raising awareness regarding the interconnectedness of spirituality and vegan living is not only essential during these critical times, but is also inspiring,” said Sermon Contest winner, Dr. Will Tuttle. “It is an honor to be chosen the winner of the Coalition’s Sermon Contest (in the vegan category), and my gratitude extends to the many animal rights advocates and spiritual teachers whose example and guidance have provided encouragement for me over the years. Special thanks to Charles and Myrtle Fillmore and the Unity movement they founded, whose original teachings explicitly call us to practice kindness and respect toward animals, and also to my Zen Buddhist teachers and their similar example, and to the Interfaith Vegan Coalition for helping to bring the light of ahimsa to our religious communities. My deepest gratitude to the animals who bear the full fury of our human delusion; may their suffering at our hands be transformed into compassion in our hearts and actions.”

Dr. Will Tuttle is author of the international best-seller, The World Peace Diet, published in 17 languages. A recipient of the Courage of Conscience Award and the Empty Cages Prize, he is also the author of several other books on spirituality, intuition, and social justice, as well as the creator of online wellness and advocacy programs. A vegan since 1980 and former Zen monk, he is featured in a number of documentary films. The co-founder of the Worldwide Prayer Circle for Animals, he is a frequent radio, television, and online presenter. With his spouse Madeleine, a Swiss visionary artist, he has delivered thousands of lectures in all 50 states and in 50 countries.

Timothy J. Verret passed away on November 27, 2021, before he could accept his award. On the subject of his spiritual activism, he previously said, “I simply… cannot rest on the superficial layer of life; I have to go in deep, dark, down, and come to the surface to report to others what I found (a need to be compassionate, empathic, and sensitive to others’ plights).”

Timothy appeared in numerous stage productions as an actor and was nominated for a Falstaff Shakespeare Award for Best Supporting Male for his role as Iago in Othello. He wrote plays, poetry, and sonnets. His published works included, The Denial Family, Ingenting, Spiritual Sonnets, and a children’s audio book entitled, Clarabelle Comes Clean. Timothy was a Christian, an animal welfare advocate, and believed that his purpose was to use his many creative talents to glorify His Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 

“Timothy was one of the founding members of Creation Care Church, and a valuable part of our leadership team,” said Craig Wescoe, Lead Pastor at Creation Care Church. “Sharing his faith and speaking out for animal welfare were two causes Timothy cared deeply about. His sermon presentation winning the contest and raising $500 for his favorite animal sanctuary is a wonderful way to remember his legacy. His message lives on and continues to do good work in the world, even after his passing.”

Diana Shaffner of Good Acres Sanctuaries which accepted his prize award said, “Timothy was a devout fan of Good Acres Sanctuaries and its rescued critters. After years of online-only contact, he made the 1,000+ mile journey one spring to come see us. We had a wonderful 3-day visit which inspired Timothy's heart so deeply that he planned to move to Kentucky. Little did we know that he would leave this Earth just a few months later. In hindsight, I feel even more blessed that we were all allowed to meet before he departed.”


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Sunday, October 29: Sermon Contest Award Ceremony:

In Defense of Animals’ Interfaith Vegan Coalition will bestow its first Sermon Contest Award to Dr. Will Tuttle and Timothy J. Verret (see bios below). 

Please use this link to join the online Sermon Contest Award Ceremony during V-COP 15: Vegan Convergence of the Peoples on October 29, 1 p.m. PT.

Discover more on the Facebook event page:


Contest sponsors:

Interfaith Vegan Coalition

Unitarian Universalist Animal Ministries

Jewish Veg




In Defense of Animals, Interfaith Vegan Coalition co-founder, Lisa Levinson,, 215-620-2130
Interfaith Vegan Coalition co-founder, Judy Carman,, 785-760-2446  


In Defense of Animals is an international animal protection organization with over 250,000 supporters and a 40-year history of protecting animals’ rights, welfare, and habitats through education, campaigns, and hands-on rescue facilities in India, South Korea, rural Mississippi, and central California.

In Defense of Animals started the Interfaith Vegan Coalition to help animal activists and spiritual leaders bring vegan values to spiritual, ethical, and religious communities. The coalition provides faith-based tools to help all faith and secular wisdom traditions practice the ideals of nonviolence, lovingkindness, and harmlessness toward all animals. The coalition is composed of 44 member organizations, 4 allies, and one partner organization working in harmony for a common cause.


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