Faithful Companions Blessed

By Janice Kiaski

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Twenty dogs, four cats and a guinea pig came away with special blessings when the Richmond United Methodist Church (Ohio Valley District) hosted its second Blessing of the Animals ceremony on Sept. 27 in the church parking lot.

Organized by the outreach committee, the event welcomed area residents to bring their domesticated pets on leashes or contained. For those who were unable to bring their pet, they could attend with a photo instead and still participate, according to the Rev. Carol Smith, the church’s pastor.

Those attending, however, opted to bring “the real McCoys,” transforming a portion of the church parking lot into a canine and feline social area, where four-legged friends sniffed, barked and meowed.

The event included a free photo of “pets and their people;” refreshments; door prizes; goodie bags; and special blessing medallions for pet collars.

Pastor Carol presided at a brief service where youth director Shane Heatherington sang “All Things Bright and Beautiful.”

The mission project of the day was a collection of various items – including dog and cat food, bleach, paper towels and laundry detergent – and monetary donations for the Jefferson County Animal Shelter.

“This celebration reminds us not only of the joy that our many animal friends provide, but the responsibility that we have been given to care for the Earth and all of its animals,” Smith said.

“For many, animals become loyal and faithful companions – brightening each day as silent listeners, persistent motivators and loving, forgiving friends,” Smith said. “Often, they distract us from the stresses of life, and in our care of them, we are the ones who are comforted and blessed. We will celebrate and thank God for the gift of animals in our lives, while committing ourselves anew to the task of caring for them and the world around us.”

The church’s first Blessing of the Animals ceremony in 2012 attracted dogs and cats, a bunny and two horses.

Kiaski is a member of Richmond UMC.