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Blessing of the Animals

by The Rev. Kenneth H. Saunders III
For The Salisbury Post
Fall is approaching, and people in some places may notice something a little different. It is a procession of animals that has often been compared to Noah’s Ark!
Everything from dogs and cats, to hamsters, rabbits, horses, cows and fish: All are being led to churches for a special celebration called the “Blessing of the Animals.”
“To be blessed” means “to be favored by God.” Blessings, therefore, are directly associated with God and come only from God. So, blessing an animal is like bestowing a wish that the creature will experience the favor of God.
This custom of blessing animals is usually conducted in conjunction with the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, Oct. 4, and it commemorates St. Francis’ advocacy and love for all of God’s creatures and creation.
God gave human beings dominion over all things: “the fish of the sea, the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth” (Genesis 1:28). These creatures are a gift from God and bless our daily lives. They continually show us God’s divine grace and love. So, in turn, we have a deep affection for our furry, feathered and finned friends.
We know that communication between humans and creatures seems to be simple and basic, but the bond of love between person and pet is unlike any other relationship we will ever experience. Eye-to-eye, a human being together with their companion animal, are two creatures of love. It isn’t any wonder why people enjoy the opportunity to take their animal companions to church for a special blessing. After all, church is the community where the bond of ALL of God’s creation should be celebrated.
The annual Blessing of the Animals is a simple service focused on offering praise and thanksgiving to God for the animals that God has placed in our lives, and includes a time to ask God’s favor on each creature. It offers individuals with pets, and animal lovers of all ages, the opportunity to reflect upon the positive impact that animals have on our emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being.
Individuals of all faiths are invited to bring their pets and companion animals (properly restrained) to Christ Episcopal Church, 3430 Old US 70, Cleveland, on Sunday, Oct. 4 at 5:30 p.m. for the “Blessing of the Animals.”
The Rowan County Humane Society and the Faithful Friends Animal Sanctuary will be on hand to offer care advice and animals available for adoption.
Assisting in the service will be the Rev. John Tucker of Lebanon Lutheran Church, Cleveland, and the Rev. Canessa Stafford of Bethesda Presbyterian Church in Statesville.
For directions and more details go to www.christchurchclevelandnc.org.
The Rev. Kenneth H. Saunders III is an Episcopal Priest and serves as rector of ChristEpiscopal Church in Cleveland.Blessing at St. Paul’s
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church will hold its annual Blessing of the Animals at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 3 in the church courtyard.
The animals will be blessed by the Rev. Candis Burgess, the Stated Supply priest.
Everyone is welcome to bring their animals.
St. Paul’s is located at 930 S. Main St. in Salisbury at the corner of Harrison Street. Parking is located behind the church.
Blessing in Kannapolis
Kimball Memorial Lutheran Church, Kannapolis, will once again be offering up a Community Blessing of the Animals worship gathering at Village Park on Sunday, Oct. 4, at 4 p.m. This is an opportunity for pet owners to bring their pets of all descriptions out to the park to receive a special blessing and participate in this special worship event.
The worship gathering will be held on the Patio Area of the Kannapolis Village Park Pavilion, and will include music, prayer, the Word, a homily delivered by Pastor Rhoades, and the blessing of the animals. Each animal present will be given a small cross to put on its collar.
This community service is a project of the Mission Outreach initiative group of our Healthy Church DNA. The Mission Outreach team has connected with local veterinarians and pet stores to make this event a success. All are welcome.

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