The “Blessing of the Pets” will be held from 10 a.m. to noon, May 1, at Bryan County Bark Park, located at 500 Veterans Memorial Pkwy., Richmond Hill, to allow pet owners to have their furry family members blessed by Pastor Devin Strong of Spirit of Peace Lutheran Church.
Strong, a 30-year Lutheran church pastor, has blessed many pets over the years.
“I have blessed dozens of cats, dogs, snakes, birds, and hamsters over the years when I have held this event in other congregations,” he said. “This is at least the second time that Spirit of Peace has held a ‘Blessing of the Pets.’”
This event has roots in the ministry of Francis of Assisi, a 13th century monk who had a special love for animals.
“He believed that we owe the animals and the earth every bit as much care and concern as we owe each other,” Strong said. “We are all God’s children. Francis was even known to preach to birds. Originally, churches held an annual ‘Blessing of the Pets’ on Holy Saturday between Good Friday and Easter to tie this blessing closely to the Christian celebration of the resurrection.”
The Bryan County Bark Park Association is a recognized non-profit and relies on the generosity of donors to support a safe space for local pet owners and their furry family.
“For me, the ‘Blessing of the Pets’ is a time to reflect on their unconditional love for us and it’s impossible to consider that without thinking about God’s love as well,” said Wendy Bolton, Bryan County Bark Park Association president.
Bolton’s golden retriever, Sadie, was blessed at the last event by a minister and she said it was a very moving ceremony.
“As an avid dog lover, this event serves as a reminder of what a great gift our pets are and the positive impact they have on our lives,” she said.
Strong noted that for many, pets become true members of the family.
“People love their pets,” Strong said. “For the humans, the most important part of this blessing is to be reminded that their pets are a beloved part of God’s creation, that their animals have a crucial ministry in our lives, and that God is watching over their pets, just as the Lord watches over us. I, too, have a special place in my heart for animals. Of our most common pets, I like to say that cats teach us about free will, and dogs teach us about grace.”
Photo courtesy of Bryan county Bark Park
A dog lounges on a bench in the Bryan County Bark Park.
All well-behaved pets are welcome and leashes are not needed inside the fenced areas of the Bryan County Bark Park, but pets should be on a leash as they are being escorted to and from vehicles and the park.
Previous events have attracted many pet owners, so patience is encouraged at this year’s event.
For information, visit spiritofpeacelutheran.org.