Whidbey Island pastor hoping to read to her flock

Animal stories aren’t just for kids, as a Clinton resident and pastor is hoping to demonstrate during a Zoom story time session this Friday.

Catherine Foote is an author who will be sharing an excerpt from her new book about her two “flocks”: her Romney sheep on Whidbey, and her congregation in Seattle at the University Congregational United Church of Christ.

The event is titled “Creature Connections — Animal Stories & Songs for Grown Ups” and is hosted by Gathering Ground, an organization Foote is a part of that is supported by her church and promotes storytellers and artists from the Pacific Northwest.

“What we’re trying to do is lift up local artists in a way that lifts up the spirit,” Foote said.

Creature Connections will take place 7 p.m. this Friday, May 15. Attendees are encouraged to RSVP at the link, https://gatheringround.org/rsvp/creatureconnections/2020515, and consider giving a donation. Proceeds go back to the local artists and the community sponsoring the event.

Foote will be splitting the time with Kiran Oommen, a mandolin player from Seattle.

“You’ve got me, an older woman with gray hair and you’ve got Kiran, a young tattooed musician with a wild look in his eyes,” Foote said with a laugh. “It’s a pretty wonderful connection.”

Oommen has been a climate activist since high school. He is one of 21 youth plaintiffs who filed in the 2015 lawsuit Juliana v. United States, which asserts that the United States government violated the rights to a clean environment for future generations by contributing to climate change with greenhouse gas emissions.

He will be performing folk and bluegrass songs during Creature Connections, but added that he also has a background in punk music.

In keeping with the theme of the night, Oommen will be playing his own nature-themed songs, or “organism” songs, as he refers to them.

He said Foote has been a mentor for his own mother, who is also a minister.

Gathering Ground has done story times before, but this is the first one that will be held over Zoom, an online conferencing application.

Foote said she hopes to be able to bring her sheep into the video chat. She is also thrilled that friends will be able to attend the story time virtually.

“This is the first time you can come from everywhere,” Foote said.

“My nephew from Texas is coming, and some friends from California are coming.”

Creature Connections will also have an interactive element for participants. Partway through, they will be randomly put into a separate chat room in small groups to discuss animal-themed questions.

Foote’s book, “Shepherding the Seasons: Stories from a Life with Two Flocks,” can be purchased by visiting the links on the Gathering Ground website’s event page for Creature Connections.