New Trend: Ministry Dogs. Like service dogs, these pets team with pastors to lead worshipers and care for ailing congregants. There's Tiger, a Labrador trained by NEADS, the National Education of Assistance Dogs Services, who goes on nursing home rounds with Ami Sawtelle, a minister at three United Methodist churches in Boothbay, Maine.

And there's Carney, unordained but evidently called, an 11-year-old French Bulldog who lies on his bed beside the pulpit while Pastor Kelly Harvell preaches in Whitefield and Bethlehem, New Hampshire. Carney appears on the website and attends four services each week. He also nuzzles worship attenders who need a little affection. "He seems very aware of who needs him," Harvell said.

At Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mission, Texas, Chunkly and Bendito have their own vestments to match those of their master, Father Roy Snipes. "If you want to look for a church that doesn't have dogs," Snipes tells complainers, "I'm sure you'll find one." -info from USA Today

Not a Dog Person?

Consider these 'service' animals:

  • Gnus—evangelists of the animal kingdom
  • Howler monkeys—naturals in youth ministry
  • Grouse—likely deacon candidates
  • Boa constrictor—comptroller
  • Galapagos turtles—long range planning
  • Stink bugs—love business meetings
  • Yak—the back row
  • Unicorns—mythical creatures, like "trouble-free congregations"
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Spring 2012: Spiritual Warfare  | Posted
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