October 02, 2013 - "Wherever you are on life's journey, you are welcome here."
Immanuel Congregational UCC Pastor Liz Wilson blesses a dog. Photo by C.J. Carnacchio. (click for larger version)
Immanuel Congregational United Church of Christ's invitation to the community isn't just for humans. It extends to animals as well.
That's why the Oxford Village church, located at 1 Hovey St., will conduct its Third Annual Blessing of the Pets at 12:15 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 13.
The blessing isn't just limited to the usual dogs and cats.
Folks are welcome to bring any type of animal they wish, according to Pastor Liz Wilson. Rabbits, turtles, lizards, gerbils, hamsters, guinea pigs, frogs, birds – none with fur, feathers or scales will be turned away.
"Somebody might even ride a horse in," she said.
The blessing will take place outside the church and Wilson anticipates it will last about 15-20 minutes.
The service will begin with a litany, followed by the actual blessing.
"I'll go to each animal and bless it separately," Wilson said. "It won't be a group blessing. It will be an individual blessing. I'll put my hands on each animal."
Wilson began doing the blessing because people's pets are so very near and dear to their hearts.
"I think people feel so strongly about their animals that to have them officially blessed is especially wonderful," she said.
Given animals are "part of God's creation," Wilson believes "they deserve our love and respect."
As a self-described "animal lover," this blessing is one of Wilson's favorite church events.
"I just love seeing these creatures and I enjoy the whole process," she said. "I think that animals are very, very important in the lives of people.
"I think animals are reflections of God's love to us. They're very sacred to me. Animals are very precious."
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.