Published Saturday, October 06, 2012
By W. WINSTON SKINNER
Two Coweta churches are planning Blessing of the Animals services on Sunday -- the first of several set this month.
“This Sunday, Pastor Jim Dixon will bless the pets of Andrews Chapel in the church parking lot,” said Debra Tarleton, a member at Andrews Chapel United Methodist Church in Roscoe. The service will start at 3 p.m.
Also on Sunday, a Blessing of the Animals service will be held at St. Mary Magdalene Catholic Church at 10 a.m.
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church will observe the annual event on Oct. 14 at 5 p.m. First United Methodist Church of Newnan will hold its Blessing of the Animals on Oct. 20 at 10 a.m. in the church parking lot.
The St. Paul’s service will be held on the lawn near the outdoor altar. Animals of all kinds are welcome, and worshippers also have the option of leaving the pet at home and coming to the service to receive a blessing on their pets’ behalf. People sometimes bring photographs of pets left at home.
Names of pets who have died will also be remembered at the Episcopal church.
The service at First Methodist will include prayer for the long life, good health and happy homes of pets -- as well as blessings for their families. Pets should be on a leash or in a crate of some kind, and owners should be prepared to clean up after them.
Animal blessing services are often held in October when Christians from various traditions commemorate the life of St. Francis of Assisi. The blessing of animals is a reminder of the stewardship God gives humans for all creation.
For some faith traditions, St. Francis is the patron saint of animals and the environment. Information distributed by First Methodist indicated St. Francis “lived his life with a profound love and respect for all creatures, human and animal alike.”
Tradition says the saint once preached a sermon to a flock of wild birds and that he tamed a ferocious wolf.