The Pet Service this year was led by the Rev’d Brian Sharp whose informal manner and obvious love of animals charmed many of the people present who did not normally attend our services but had come along with their pets especially for this service.
We had a congregation of 70, including 13 children, with about 20 dogs of varying shapes and sizes, two cats, a tortoise and a rabbit which was kept securely in a pet carrier for the entire service – which was quite wise considering the number of dogs around! The charity this year was Riding for the Disabled which is locally situated in the grounds of Maurice House and run entirely by volunteers. We had a talk about their work with disabled children and saw pictures of the ponies on the screen.
The collection was taken in aid of the charity, following which the congregation were invited to take their pets to the altar rail to be individually blessed with the words “Bless, O God, this Thy Creature and this its human protector” before we sung the final hymn and it was lovely to see that many of the congregation and their pets stayed for coffee and a chat. The Pet service is a very good way of reaching out to the community, all the pets present behaved impeccably, and several people told me afterwards how much they had enjoyed the service.