My canine co-chaplain Working together: The Rev Mitchell Herps with his workplace welfare dog, Mac.
Mitchell Herps Ministry in any context can bring about many learning opportunities. Interestingly, when I joined the Air Force as a chaplain I didn’t think one of those would be becoming a workplace welfare dog handler! We have military working dogs within the Air Force, but Mac – my workplace welfare dog – is most certainly not one of those. He is a yellow labrador who spent the first four years of his life at Guide Dogs Victoria, training to be an assistance dog and working as an “ambassadog”. Put simply, he was one of the faces of the organisation, getting out and about at community outreach events and fundraisers.
Mac came to me at the I have the privilege of being beginning of last year through a involved in the everyday lives program being developed within of people on the base. Through Air Force chaplaincy – working these connections I earn the right on the expectation that therapy to provide spiritual advice, be a dogs would have a positive listening ear, comfort those who impact in the workplace similar grieve and most of all, tell them of to the known benefits in schools, what Christ has done for them. hospitals and nursing homes. Much of my daily role includes Ministry with a workplace getting out and about across welfare dog is different. But the base. I visit workplaces, beyond the morale boost Mac engage with people who have brings, he has enabled me to roles in administration, aircraft build connections. The average maintenance, physical security, Australian probably doesn’t know logistics, firefighting and the name or the face of their medicine, as well as some fastlocal minister, but across the jet pilots. base where I am posted – RAAF When I take my dog to the Base Tindal near Katherine in the gym to greet those attending a Northern Territory – I am fairly physical training session, I often certain everyone knows Mac, and hear excited voices saying, ‘Mac’s by extension they know me! here!’. When I attend a meeting,
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he does a lap of the room, bringing a sense of calm. He’s even had the privilege of meeting our Prime Minister, our Minister for Defence and our Chief of Air Force – and to express to them the way in which Mac puts a smile on people’s faces is a great joy. I’m still learning to be a chaplain in the RAAF. But it is a ministry that is well worth the challenges. You can find out more about Defence chaplaincy at www. defenceanglicans.org.au.SC The Rev Mitchell Herps studied at Moore College – his final year sponsored by the RAAF – and spent two years as an assistant minister in Camden before becoming an Air Force chaplain in 2019.
Together as one To find out more, please visit: abmission.org/Lent21 SouthernCross
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