July 25, 2008
Methodist Congregations, Local Shelters, Come Together with HSUS to Bless the Animals
by Karen L. Allanach
The unusually high temperatures on a Saturday in mid-June didn't dampen the spirits of two United Methodist Church congregations in Frederick County, Md, that came together with The Humane Society of the United States to celebrate animals with a pet blessing ceremony.
In an open field surrounded by a high school and new suburban development, the small group, which included volunteers with Frederick County Animal Control and Frederick County Humane Society, gathered under a tent among dry winds and high heat.
With introductions by HSUS staff Karen Allanach and Christine Gutleben of Animals & Religion, and Kelly Connolly of Companion Animals, the ceremony proceeded with readings and prayers from two uplifiting pastors—Tim Dowell of FaithPoint United Methodist Church and John Dean of Wesley Chapel United Methodist Church—both of Urbana, Md.
Their sermons were connected with inspirational music led by FaithPoint, and both pastors blessed the animals at the service. One of the blesssed animals was a lovely long-haired cat, available for adoption through the Frederick County Humane Society.
From Pastor Dowell's sermon: “I’m happy you brought your animals to be blessed today (and we will bless them). But I’m even happier that God has provided you as a means of blessing for your animals on a daily basis! And I’m happiest of all that God loves each and every one of us so much … as to want to provide for ALL our needs—our worldly needs (food, shelter) and our spiritual needs (forgiveness, wholeness, and eternal life).
And I want to encourage you—if you’ve lost touch with how you fit into God’s plan of blessing … get back in touch. Drop into Wesley Chapel (or) FaithPoint. If you’re from a different faith tradition—go where you need to go—but don’t lose touch with the one who blesses not only your animal—but blesses all of creation—especially you!”Read more from Pastor Dowell's sermon here.
Long Tradition of Compassion
It was fitting that the ceremony was hosted by two United Methodist congregations. The Methodists have a long tradition of supporting animal care and protection.
The Social Principles—part of the Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church—addresses humane treatment of pets, animals in research, animals in agriculture, endangered species and more.
The small crowd at the Urbana ceremony was large in voice and spirit, and the pets and wildlife around surely benefited by the extra blessings bestowed on them that day.
Karen L. Allanach is associate director of Animals & Religion.