GREENCASTLE -- St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, 520 E. Seminary St., will hold its annual blessing of animals service at 2 p.m. Sunday in the church's memorial garden. Animal lovers of all ages are invited to attend and bring their pets.
The brief service, which includes the singing of hymns, the reading of scripture and prayers for the well being of all animals, will conclude with a prayer of blessing for the pets that members and friends have brought to the service.
In the past, everything from horses to chinchillas, not to mention some favorite stuffed towys, has shown up at the church.
Sunday's blessing continues a tradition begun in 1979, when the late Rev. Allan Harlan, then rector of the parish, organized such a service at St. Andrew's to commemorate the Feast of St. Francis, which falls on Oct. 4. The Rev. Bill Wieland, the current record, revived the observance in 1989.
"It's a gentle, playful way for us to remember how the goodness of God sustains all living things," Wieland said. "St. Francis taught that animals are our companions -- they literally 'share our bread' -- in some cases at the dinner table. A service like this celebrates the special relationship we enjoy with the creatures that God has given into our care.
"In past years, people have brought quite an assortment of pets to the service -- big and small. Predictably, there's an altercation between a dog and cat now and again; blessing them won't change that," Wieland added. "But it's always a lot of fun, especially for the kids."