Bethel UMC Blesses the Animals

Rev. Alice Deal conducting the Blessing of the Animals service | Photos/Barbara Ball

WINNSBORO – There were lots of wet kisses, sniffing, cuddling, obeying, not obeying, tail wagging and a few barks when church members and friends gathered, with their dogs, on the front lawn of Bethel United Methodist Church in Winnsboro Sunday for the church’s annual Blessing of Animals.

After a greeting, followed by an invocation and singing of Francis of Assisi’s ‘All Creatures of Our God and King,’ the animals’ owners repeated a litany of praise before Rev. Alice Deal prayed Albert Schweitzer’s prayer for animals.

Rev. Deal then blessed each of the dogs.

“Bless, O Lord, this creature, and fill our hearts with thanksgiving for its being,” she repeated as many times as there were dogs, cupping each one’s face, one after another, in her hands. The last dog to be blessed was one of her own. She has three.

After a love offering that will be donated to the Fairfield County Animal Shelter, the 15 or so owners joined song leader Ben Hornsby in singing ‘This is My Father’s World.’

“I look forward to this every year,” Deal said, smiling. “It’s a wonderful day to have all the animals here.”

The service of blessing takes place every year on the Sunday following Oct. 4, the feast day of Francis of Assisi, known as the patron saint of animals.

Prayer for Animals

“Hear our humble prayer, O God, for our friends the animals, especially for animals who are suffering, for any that are hunted or lost or deserted or frightened or hungry; for all that are to be put to death. We entreat for them all thy mercy and pity, and for those who deal with them we ask a heart of compassion and gentle hands and kindly words. Make us, ourselves, to be true friends to animals and so to share the blessings of the merciful, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”    –Albert Schweitzer