by Eric A Thomas
Pets are an extension of who we are. Often called our “fur babies,” they can bring us so much joy. To bless them for the joy they bring, one local congregation will be hosting a Pet Blessing Service on Sunday, October 3 at 6 p.m.
Faith Lutheran Church, located at 1385 W. Walnut Ave. in Jacksonville, is giving this time to reflect on what pets mean to their owners. First, it is important to give God thanks for pets and the joy they bring into our lives. The love that is shared between a pet and owner is a gift from God, and as such should be acknowledged. Second, it is an opportunity for everyone to remember to care for God’s creations. In the Bible, God commands us to exercise dominion over animals. It is important to recognize that dominion is not domination. “We are called to respect and care for them as we serve their needs and preserve them,” states Pastor Adam Dichsen. Finally, the service will provide an opportunity for everyone to gather as a community. “We are still emerging from a long time of isolation, a time when, for some, pets were our only physical companions,” adds the pastor. “It is good to gather together and reconnect with one another.”
Pet blessing services are not new to congregations across the country and around the world. Different denominations offer these special services in a variety of ways. Faith Lutheran has done these many times over the past several years. They have always found the special service to be an uplifting and meaningful event. “Our pets are beloved members of our families,” the pastor stated. “It is such a joy to be able to include them in our worship together.” Most churches have these special services around October 4, which is known as Feast Day of St. Francis. Francis is a well-known saint in the Roman Catholic Church, whose influence has spread around the world. He saw God reflected in nature, loved God’s creations and preached about the importance of living in peace with our brothers and sisters of all species.
During the special service on the third, congregants will gather on the church lawn by the east entrance of the church. All dogs need to be leashed and all cats need to be in carriers. Chairs will be provided, but everyone is welcome to bring their own lawn chair. Humans and their pets are encouraged to visit but also asked to keep distance when needed to keep the peace. The service will have an opening prayer and then scriptures will be shared about God’s love for creation and how we are supposed to take care of it. Last, there will be opportunity to have a prayer of blessing for the individual and their pet. After the service, there will be goodies for humans and pets alike. “In the past we have blessed everything from turtles and snakes to hamsters and hermit crabs,” he concludes. “If you do not have a pet, stuffed animals are welcome as well.”
Faith Lutheran Church has worship services Sunday mornings at 9:30 a.m., both in-person and online, followed by Sunday schools for children, youth and adults. They offer several in-person and online Bible studies and book groups. Stay tuned for Advent Allegro concert series in December as they hope to return to in-person concerts. For more information, follow them on Facebook or reach out at 217-245-8919.