By Claire Cooper
There were furry paws, waggy tails and twitching whiskers among the congregation at St Augustine’s Church in Scaynes Hill earlier this month when the church held a special pet service.
Vicar Lisa Barnett invited parishioners to bring their furry friends to church for a celebration and blessing and was delighted so see the pews filled with a 25 dogs, a selection of guinea pigs, an enormous rabbit and even a tortoise named Lisa!
The service included specially chosen hymns, such as All Things Bright and Beautiful, a Bible reading read by Thomas Martin, while parishioner Bev Sotiri, accompanied by her four dogs, read a poem for dog owners.
Those unable to bring their pets to church, and those who wished to remember their former pets, brought along photos.
Following the service, there was a chance for pets and owners to mingle and enjoy refreshments in the church hall.
This was the first pet service to be led by Lisa, and is part of the church’s commitment to strengthen community spirit. “I was more than a little bit nervous before the service,” she said. “How many pets would be brought along? Would they behave? But I needn’t have worried!
“The animals all behaved beautifully, staying quiet during the talk and joining in with gusto during the hymns! It was a very special occasion, celebrating the joy that our pets bring us, and committing ourselves to caring for all of God’s creatures. We’re definitely planning to do it again sometime!”