Cherishing Our Animal Friends

Greetings, all!

I hope you’re having a good week so far and I look forward to seeing you in worship.

This Sunday is our Blessing of the Animals Service and we will have various interactive elements. We welcome children and families especially to join us in the sanctuary for the full service!

Some Unitarian Universalist churches do animal blessing services every year. Others never. And some, like us, do them every so often. I’ve been in congregations where caged guinea pigs, snakes, cats and dogs, and even chickens were lugged into the pews annually for this special occasion.

Why no live animals for A2U2, you ask? For one, several of our members have severe allergies. And even with no allergies, I’ve been around animals enough of my life to know what it looks like when they’re not happy. It’s my belief that for most pets, the kind of environment that a live animal blessing service creates causes them stress (and even distress). It might be fun for us, but it’s really not for them. As we celebrate the creatures that bring so many blessings to our lives, let us do so from afar to keep their nervous systems happy.

And where did the animal blessing church service come from in the first place? Cherishing all creatures and our interdependent web are as old as time and practiced by many cultures and faith traditions. But blessing animals at church? This particular practice of ours can be traced back to St. Francis of Assisi (statue pictured above of St. Francis holding a bird in each hand), the 13th century monk who founded the Franciscan order. He had a deep love for animals and was later named the patron saint of animals. The Feast Day of St. Francis is October 4th, the same day as World Animal Day, an international day of action for animal rights and welfare. This is why animal blessings are typically held in October.

So, come! Join us on Sunday as we bless and remember the ways that WE are blessed by the non-human animals in our lives. Bring a photo of your pet(s), your favorite stuffie, or both! It will be good to be together.

In faith,
Rev. Tara