St Stephen's Anglican Church ,Hampden
Pet Service held on Sun 2 Oct 2011 at 2pm
Dog Collars the Order of the Day
It could have been the weather. It could have been the Bishop's visit. It could even have been the need to seek comfort in the wake of Dan Carter's injury.
Whatever it was, it resulted in a wonderful gathering of 48 human beings, 14 dogs and two budgies in St Stephen's Anglican Church in Hampden on Sunday afternoon for the annual Pet Service in honour of St Francis. They came from as far afield as Waitati in the south and Oamaru in the north.
At the beginning of the service pet owners introduced their dogs and budgies .The largest dog was a leonburger, with daushounds, poodles , a 15 year old Jack Russell, springer spaniels, and two all black labradors sitting in the church with their owners.
The service was a mixture of the usual and the decidedly unusual, with hymns, readings, and prayers before and after a keenly contested Canine and Feline quiz between two equally inventive teams.
In his sermon, Bishop Kelvin Wright spoke of the pet that had had the most profound effect on him – a rabbit called Chester who had joined the Wright family when he was Vicar of St John's, Roslyn. The Bishop described how his relationship with Chester had grown into one that could only be described as friendship. "When I looked into Chester's eyes and Chester returned my gaze, I knew him as a fellow creature, not a thing – a manifestation of God's creative and loving power. Chester reminded me that all creatures have a God-given dignity worthy of human respect."
After the service in which the pets present were blessed, and those that had passed away were remembered, certificates were awarded in some very imaginative categories of pet; and the dogs were rewarded for their impeccable 'Sunday-best' behaviour with some tasty nibbles, kindly donated by Oamaru Vet Services. Then it was the humans' turn, with a scrumptious afternoon tea in the hall.
The service was led by Rev Roger Barker, Interim Priest of the Parish of East Otago, and Alistair Wright, from St Barnabas Church in Warrington, provided the musical accompaniment on the organ.
by Rev Roger Barker