Church welcomes pets into family

Unity of Olympia holds first blessing ceremony for animals of congregants and guests

Staff writerJuly 12, 2014 

Unity of Olympia hosted its first pet blessing this week in the forested yard behind the church building.

Pets of members and guests were honored through prayer accompanied by acoustic music.

“I really believe that pets in people’s lives provide a service of love and relationship that oftentimes is devalued in our society,” said the Rev. Terry Murray, who led the ceremony Thursday evening.

Murray first realized that the congregation would benefit from a pet blessing ceremony after a new church directory was compiled a few months ago. When members were instructed to bring in their families for the directory photos, many people brought their animals to be included in the portrait.

The pet blessing included dogs, cats and even framed pictures of animals that were unable to attend the ceremony.

The evening began with a message from Murray reminding her congregation about humans’ responsibility to animals. She then described the value of the relationship between pets and their owners.

“We don’t get to do what we want with them,” she said. “Rather, we are responsible to them.”

Murray then invited guests and their pets forward. She gave the owners a moment to describe the needs of their pets, and then she placed her hands on each animal and prayed over its well-being.

“A lot of pet blessings will just be a general statement,” said Shannon Gordon, a church member who assisted Murray with the ceremony.

“I think the way Terry is doing it, which is lovely, is to really be more personal with it and find out what that animal is going through, or what that human is going through, and tuning in to that.”

Church guest Barbara Bosch brought her 6-year-old Maltese, Casper, to be blessed.

Casper, a therapy dog, received blessing and thanks for his service.

Bosch said she got Casper from a local rescue shelter in 2012 and that he had been mistreated in his previous home.

“I would have blessed Casper a long time ago, if anything like that was available,” Bosch said. “He’s got a little soul.”

Gordon said she expects the church to do more pet blessings, and she hopes to see ceremonies designed to give special attention to service and therapy dogs.

Annah Pritchett: 360-915-2865

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