Animal welfare agency the RSPCA is inviting clergy to celebrate animals in their church services this autumn to help draw people’s attention to Animal Welfare Sunday on 5 October.
The call follows the launch of a new initiative by the Church of England in June, Time for God’s Creation, which encourages Christians across England to put the environment at the heart of their worship from 1 September to 4 October.
Oxford theologian the Rev Prof Andrew Linzey is encouraging Christians to make the most of the opportunity to reconsider their mandate to care for living creatures.
He said: "It is vital that Christians remember their specific responsibilities towards animals during this welcome renewal of environmental concern. What we call 'the environment' or 'creation' comprises individual creatures, many of them sentient, who need our care.
"Animal Welfare Sunday falls on 5 October and provides a real opportunity for clergy to organise services that both celebrate God's creatures and underline the importance of behaving responsibly towards them."
Mark Watts, RSPCA Chief Executive, said: "Many people tend to think that animal abuse happens at the hands of just a few, but in truth as a society we need to think far more deeply about how our lifestyle impacts on animals and how we may be, directly or indirectly, permitting suffering.
"Faith groups can play an important role. We hope they will seize the moment and take a lead in promoting responsible attitudes towards animals."
The RSPCA was founded by Anglican priest the Rev Arthur Broome in 1824. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, is the charity’s vice patron.