Pets in the Pew

June 4th, 2010 by Kathy McManus

Do dogs belong in church?

Brought to you by Liberty Mutual's
The Responsibility Project

At the Calvary Episcopal Church in Danvers, Massachusetts, dogs now have their own designated worship service, “complete with communion for the humans who wish to partake and special blessings bestowed on pets and people alike,” reports the Salem News. The goal, says the News, “is to take the unconditional love that pet owners feel for their animals and connect that to a feeling of something higher.”

Fifty pooches attended the first monthly “Perfect Paws Pet Ministry,” where barking is allowed and dog cookies are doled out at the end of prayer. “Kindness for animals builds a better world for all of us,” says Rev. Thea Keith-Lucas on her website. “Caring for animals is our global spiritual responsibility.”

Some News readers growled at the idea. “You are turning the church into a dog pound,” one wrote, while another wondered if a “canine confessional” might be in the works. But there’s “more spirituality behind the idea than cynics might think,” The Boston Herald said, quoting a church-goer who brought her 14-year-old black Lab/greyhound mix to the service. “When (pets) are gone, we mourn their loss,” the woman said, “but it’s even more special now because we get to pray for them on a more direct level.”

“We have to recognize that there are lots of places other than church where we encounter God,” Rev. Keith-Lucas said, and “at the top of the list are dogs and teddy bears."