All creatures great and small!
It has been our tradition in the Benefice to hold a Service on Saint Francis of Assisi Day to which pets and their “owners” are invited.
Like many things in the Church it has had good, bad and indifferent responses over the years, but currently seems to enjoying a revival in respect of increased interest and answers to the invitation.
Corton has a working farm which lies close by the medieval Church and this aspect has lent itself to our being able to mark the seasons and the cycles of agriculture much more easily than has been possible in the dormitory subburb nature of Hopton Village and so we have used Saint Bartholomew’s as the venue for the Blessing of Pets for the past two years.
Last year Sky, the horse, had been specially washed in preparation for the Service and so she was unconditionally invited to enter the Narthex along with her canine companions and the humans who had come with them.
This year Sky brought Misty, the 23 year-old pony, along with her and once again we experienced exemplary behaviour from all the animals and, it can honestly be said, from most of the humans too.
Does this indicate some of the hallmarks of Committed to Growth?
During the short Service there is a Reading from Scripture and various prayers and a Blessing is said for the animals and their carers.
Afterwards the horses are given apples and carrots while each of the dogs receive a treat to chew.
Planning and preparation are relatively simple with only the need for the Liturgy to be printed off and a suitable scoop and brush to be provided for timeous intervention in the case of the unexpected! The trustworthy Church Hoover (wet and dry vacuum) is used at the end to mop up the crumbs!
Publicity is through the weekly pew leaflet and mentioned at assemblies in the two village Primary Schools.
I suppose that the experts would be apoplectic at our lack of Health and Safety signage and insurance provisions, but each animal has their carer who sees to their welfare and to the provision of high vis tabards and collars, reins and leads etc. and the rest is common sense and good old mother wit which is still plentiful in the countryside.
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