WARNER ROBINS -- Faith Evangelical Lutheran Church put out a welcome for all creatures great and small Sunday.
The occasion was the traditional blessing of the animals which takes place among many faith communities on the first Sunday of October in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, known as the patron saint of animals.
Attending a special afternoon service were a couple dozen dogs, one cat and a turtle.
Following the service, a reception featured snacks for humans and doggie biscuits and kitty food for the pets.
The day is an opportunity to bless the animals and give thanks to God for them and for all creation, said the Rev. John Barichivich, pastor at Faith Lutheran. Were not really blessing them to make them more special, but were giving thanks for them and for the special relationship we have with them.
Blessings and prayers were said for each animal brought by owners to the service. A special blessing was said for the animals serving in the Warner Robins Police Departments canine division.
Among those bringing pets to the service was Judy Singleton who brought her three dogs, each one a rescue dog with its own story.
Barichivich and his family brought their Peek-a-poo, Maizee, while it was his daughter, Jessica, who brought her turtle, Tiddles.
Barb Snyder brought the sole cat, Bogart, among all the dogs.
Cats are one of Gods creations and deserve a blessing, too, she said. But I guess hes wondering why in the world I brought him out in the middle of all these dogs.
Bogart enjoyed safety in an enclosed cat carrier during the service. There were no incidents between species or among canine breeds during the blessings or reception.
Our animals are really an expression of ourselves, said Holly Mills. Theyre an expression of our capacity to love. My grandmother always told me if someone didnt like dogs or cats to stay away from them.
Contact Michael W. Pannell at firstname.lastname@example.org.