Page last updated at 10:56 GMT, Sunday, 23 October 2005 11:56 UK

Vicar's furry friends join church

Father Peter MacLeod-Miller
Father MacLeod-Miller says the animals add interest to the service

A clergyman is enlisting the help of furry friends to spread the gospel to his flock.

Father Peter MacLeod-Miller, 43, keeps a donkey, lambs, goats and alpacas in a paddock at his rectory and takes them to church services in Barrow, Suffolk.

Australian-born Father MacLeod-Miller said the idea developed since he arrived in England four years ago.

"Animals are central figures in many Biblical stories. I just find they can help people relax and add interest."

He continued: "It's hard to doze off in church when there's a donkey standing in the aisle. People seem to like them."

Father MacLeod-Miller keeps two goats, three lambs, three alpacas, 30 chickens and a donkey in a paddock at his rectory.

He takes the animals to services at All Saints Church and uses them when working in schools and making pastoral visits.

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