LANSING, Ill. (October 7, 2018) – It’s a tradition that started before David Price became First United Methodist Church’s pastor, and it’s one he enjoys continuing—the annual Blessing of the Animals. On the first Sunday in October, 25 people, 20 dogs, a cat, and a guinea pig gathered in “Methodist Park,” the grassy area south of the parking lot, to receive a blessing.
Pastor Price read from Psalms and Genesis, citing Biblical references to animals and their role in the redemptive story. From the animal pairs that Noah brought into the ark, to the paschal lamb, to the fish that swallowed Jonah, to the ravens that brought food to Elijah, “animals share in Christ’s redemption in all God’s creation,” Pastor Price told the crowd, “so we therefore invoke God’s blessing on all of these animals.”
Following a general prayer over all the gathering, and a barked “Amen” from one of the yappier parishioners, Pastor Price went around the circle and personally blessed each pet and owner.
In spite of the range of pets and temperaments, Price has never been bitten during a Blessing of the Animals, though he has been snarled at—by pets, not people.
Clare Gann has been a member at First United Methodist Church since 2004 and has always participated in the Blessing of the Animals. “I’ve never been without an animal,” she laughed. Gann’s beagles, Snoopy and Daphne, have been with her since 2008. This year she is hoping for a special blessing of health and longevity for Daphne, who was recently diagnosed with thyroid carcinoma. “We’re gonna hope for as many years as we can,” said Gann.
After approximately 30 minutes of blessing and fellowship, pets and owners headed back to their cars, and Pastor Dave, his wife Laura, and their dog Sammy headed back to the parsonage.
First United Methodist Church is located at 18420 Burnham Avenue.