Resolution A054, calling for new rites and prayers for animals was approved at the Episcopal General Convention on July 12.
The Prayer Book and Music committee heard passionate testimonies concerning the need for animal liturgies. Such liturgy needed the capability for use in a wide variety of settings, including the home.
"We really feel it's important to try to get something to the houses to decide about this because not only was there moving testimony to this committee at this General Convention but also to the previous General Convention," said the Rev. Ruth Kirk, deputy of the Diocese of Delaware. "Not everyone feels skilled to create the liturgy for Fluffy in their backyard."
The animal rites include rites of passage, such as when a pet dies or an assistive animal dies.
Bishop Duncan Gray, from Mississippi, asked why people were calling for such rites and Bishop George Wayne, from Missouri replied, "There has been a steady, dare I say, unrelenting call for rites like these."
"I'm a convert about this stuff," said Bishop Jeffrey Lee of Chicago, another committee member. "Part of the reason for providing something is because of… the wide range of materials that were presented to us in use out there, and we wanted to something that was responsible."
The bishops changed the resolution's wording to make the materials available rather than to "authorize" them.
"That seemed like a friendly amendment to me and will be well received by the animals of the Episcopal Church," said the Rev. Lowell Grisham of Arkansas, deputy committee chair.
Lighthearted moments included Presiding Bishop Schori, a former oceanographer, saying, "I'm glad to see the whales made it in" and Bishop C. Franklin Brookhart Jr., of Montana, saying, "No one loves his dog more than I."