Monday, November 20, 2006

Church Now Allows The Furry Ones To Attend

At St. Francis Episcopal Church in Stamford, Connecticut, the pews are filled with some unlikely worshipers.
Dogs sit by their owners' sides and cats peer out from carriers during a monthly pet-friendly service.

Barks and purrs—or "prayer noises," as the church calls them—can be heard during the afternoon celebration of Eucharist, in which people receive communion and pets a special blessing.
The half-hour service focuses on the special relationships people have with their animals, says Rev. Mark Lingle.
"At our church there are a number of people who are single or who have lost a loved one, and their pet is one of their primary relationships," he said.
(See photos and get more information about domestic cats and dogs.)
The church's special service is part of a growing movement among places of worship, some of which not only recognize the human-animal bond but offer pet owners support and services almost unheard of a decade ago.
In addition to special blessings or regular church services, these places hold private pet memorials or burials and offer grief counseling to comfort members whose pets have died.