Worshipers give thanks during Blessing of the Animals|Saint Peter’s Episcopal Church hosts annual service

Published 9:14 pm Sunday, October 4, 2009

Lifestyles & Features Editor

They came in droves — all creatures, great and small — to Saint Peter’s Episcopal Church in Washington Saturday morning for the annual service of worship for the Blessing of the Animals.
There were dogs of all shapes and sizes, but no cats were spotted in the crowd, alas. Also on hand were a tortoise carried carefully in a wicker basket and a pony that drew admiring stares from the youngsters and suspicious glances from the canines in attendance.
Father Kevin Johnson, rector of Saint Peter’s, conducted the service, inviting each animal and their human companions to step forward one at a time.
The church hosted the Blessing of the Animals and an Olde English Parish Faire in honor of Saint Francis, according to Eddy Browning, director of adult spiritual formation and special events at Saint Peter’s.
“This is a traditional event in an Episcopal church,” Browning said as he surveyed a crowd of worshipers he estimated to number between 150 and 175 people. “The blessing asks for good health and protection for the animals and wishes them a good quality of life.”
The event also allows the church to reach out into the community, beyond the bounds of the regular parish.
“This gives us a chance to share. It’s our gift to the community and everyone is welcome,” Browning said. “The whole meaning of this is a reflection of what we’re about and what we are.”
The event also allows pet owners to give thanks for the four-legged friends in their lives, Browning added.
“We believe that animals are wonderful gifts from God to us, and this is a celebration of all animals and pets,” he said.
To help mark the fifth annual Blessing of the Animals at Saint Peter’s, several area businesses and organizations set up booths to offer free advice and treats. Among those represented were Pamlico Animal Hospital, Tractor Supply of Washington, Pet Smart of Greenville, Clark’s Neck Kennel/Molly Project, Broad Creek Hound Rescue of New Bern, Spay Today, J &J Pet Rescue, Jenni K pet jewelry and Slice of Heaven.
Popcorn, cotton candy, baked goods and lemonade were served up for the human participants, while the canines were treated to doggie biscuits.
The pony availed itself of the grass on the church lawn.