Service Honors Animals and Places in Our Lives

Rev. Jacqueline Ziegler, interim minister at the Unitarian Church of Harrisburg, PA (281 members), holds an annual service where members and others may come to remember an animal companion. People are invited to bring pictures of animals that have been part of their lives. At the service they are asked to write a short poem about the animal and read it aloud, as well as light a candle. Ziegler chooses not to use the term "pets," because of its connotation of ownership.

People are also invited to share a sadness about the loss of a geographic place, such as a wetland or woodland that has been developed, or a farm or house from childhood. Ziegler said the service is publicized in the community and attracts people from outside the church. She borrowed the idea from the 1997 book by Rev. Gary Kowalski, Goodbye Friend.

About the Author

  • Donald E. Skinner was the founding editor of the InterConnections newsletter for congregational leaders and a senior editor of UU World from 1998 until his retirement in 2014. He is a member of the Shawnee Mission Unitarian Universalist Church in Lenexa, Kansas.

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