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Annual Blessing of the Animals held on St. John’s on Saturday

Several furry four-legged (or in one case, three-legged) best friends gathered with their human owners at St. John’s Episcopal Church on Saturday morning for a special service, the Blessing of the Animals. The service is in honor of St. Francis, a Catholic friar and the patron saint of animals and the environment, commonly portrayed as being surrounded by friendly animals. The Reverend Melissa Traver from First United Methodist Church joined St. John’s the Very Reverend Leslie Dellenbarger in performing the ceremony.

“This is the first year that the United Methodist Church and the Episcopal Church have joined together, and we hope that is going to be an ongoing opportunity for our churches to join together during this celebration.” Reverend Dellenbarger said. The service was cancelled last year due to the pandemic.

According to Dellenbarger, any animal, be it a pet or otherwise, is welcome.

“It can be any dog, if anybody wants to bring in their pet to come and be blessed. We do invite those that have been adopted by the shelter to come so that they can be blessed, but any dog in the community is welcome.”

Prayers from the 102nd Archbishop of Canterbury, prayers adapted from The Book of Common Prayer, and passages from Psalms and Genesis were read as part of the service.

“It has been wonderful, celebrating our beloved four-legged, perhaps even two-legged and feathered, creatures that are given to us by God for care, and who have provided care for us as well,” Dellenbarger said.

The Blessing of the Animals is an annual event, and is scheduled again for next October.