Animals large and small came to Peace Lutheran Church, Coon Rapids, Sunday afternoon for the church’s ninth annual Blessing of the Animals event.
Among animals at the blessing were a horse, dogs of all shapes and sizes, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits, a hedgehog, rats and even a bearded dragon.
Revs. Nancy Bence and Valerie Brown-Greenly, pastors at Peace Lutheran Church, led a blessing service to commemorate St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals, who Bence described as the “first environmentalist.”
The service included an invocation and benedictions, prayers, readings from the Bible and a reflection by Bence, culminating in a pet procession and blessing of the animals by Bence and Brown with musician Doug Ness singing “If I Were A Butterfly” and “Rise and Shine,” while accompanying himself on keyboard.
“This is happy day,” Bence said opening her reflection. “It is fun to have you here.”
According to Bence, all animals are important in the eyes of God and the Book of Genesis states that animals were the first companion of humans.
“We hear all their voices out there and we must take care of all God’s creatures,” said Bence.
In addition to the blessing service, there was a crazy critter contest, in which every pet was a winner, plus pet fashion show and an opportunity to have pet pictures taken.
Participants were also asked to bring pet food and supplies to donate to the Animal Humane Society.
According to Bence, the only rules for humans bringing their animals, especially their dogs, to the blessing were to keep them on a short lease and “no sniffy, sniffy” to prevent the possibility of one dog biting another, which has happened on occasion, she said.
Peter Bodley is at firstname.lastname@example.org