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05/10/2016, 10:00

Pets go to church Sunday, get blessing

Rev. Jonathan Wickham was constantly interrupted during his sermon Sunday.

He wasn't interrupted by people talking, whispering, or people on their phone.

These were playful barks and howls from the furry guests sitting next to their humans at All Saints Episcopal Church.

Chance, a 9-year-old mutt, howled right at the end of a hymn — as if letting the choir know he enjoyed it, his owner, Gayle Gottlich said.

Gottlich was one of several members of the church who attended the special service and blessing for the pets.

"His name is Chance because I found him by chance under a mailbox nine years ago," Gottlich, who has been a member of the church for 13 years, said. "It makes me so happy to be a part of this church. Episcopal tradition takes seriously that this is a God of all creation."

Wickham said the blessing of the pets is a longtime tradition of the church to acknowledge the animals as part God's creation.

He said the special service celebrates the life and legacy of St. Francis of Assisi, who wrote the Canticle of the Creatures, an ode to God's living things. St. Francis of Assisi's feast day is Oct. 4, Wickham said.

"St. Francis called us to go deep in faith and service with all of God's creation," Wickham said. "These animals we are honored to be with are great instruments of God's grace, love and blessing."

It's all about the love of God, the love we have for them and the love they have for us," Wickham said.

Treats for the pets and the humans were served as well as prayer, music and communion.

Paula Scott became a member of the church in the spring. She said she the church has always been very welcoming to everyone and on Sunday she took her African gray parrot, Niki, to get a blessing.

"He was born here so he's a Texan," Scott said while Niki stood on her shoulder. "The people here are so open and accepting and this is the most amazing service. Niki is special to me and it's amazing to experience this."


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