A timely and significant phenomena that is becoming commonplace because of a growing need.
Animal Chaplains are almost unheard of by most people in most cultures however; there is an increasing trend for such a vocation that comes from a dramatic increase in the reverence for the spiritual nature of animals. It also comes from a deep and abiding change in the human heart for this admirable calling. There is no question that the need for animal chaplains is there and there is no question that people are coming to the realization that the animals in our midst must have a divine spark, that they matter immensely, and they deserve to be honored not only during their lives with us, but in their passing.
Throughout history there have been traditions in most faiths that honor our animal brethren, if only to mention them in passing, in our prayers and occasionally in our places of worship. Surprisingly, there are many clergy world-wide who now offer to their congregants; grief counseling, funerals, blessing and memorial services and burial services for their departed animals. These animal chaplains come from a wide variety of denominations and many have had special training, even advanced degrees in animal ministry and chaplain programs.
I am including several websites that have extensive information on this bourgeoning and important calling. If you want to start your own animal ministry, become an animal ministry leader in your community, become qualified as an animal chaplain, then these websites will inspire you. There are hundreds of dedicated animal chaplains to communicate with and network with all over the world. The most amazing development in the United States is that there is a theology school, Emerson Theological Institute in Oakhurst, California that offers Bachelors, Masters and a Doctorate in Humane Religious Studies which includes an Animal Chaplains Program with eligibility for ordination. Emerson is the first theological school to offer this curriculum. This is absolutely extraordinary and hopefully a grand and glorious inspiration to people of faith everywhere. It gives hope to a weary world that indeed there are those who increasingly recognize the sacred gift of God’s beloved creatures to us, and that they do deserve our honor and respect, in death also.