SUNTREE – Early October is a time when churches and animal organizations all over the world host events where pet owners can seek divine blessings for their furry friends – or even scaly ones.
Locally, Advent Lutheran Church is one congregation that will offer such an event.
The church will hold two Blessing of the Animals sessions from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Oct. 5: one at the church’s Suntree campus, 7550 N. Wickham Road, and another at its beachside campus, 1805 Oak St., Melbourne Beach.
Inspired by the Oct. 4 feast day of St. Francis of Assisi – the Catholic patron saint of animals honored in many Christian churches and communities – animal blessings provide a rewarding spiritual experience for families with pets.
“People find great comfort in the affirmation of their animal’s worth as a creation of God and a creature in which God takes delight,” said Pastor Jeremy Freye, who will be assisting with the Suntree blessing. “Sharing a love of animals with others who are there for a blessing makes it a very positive experience for all who attend.”
The church has blessed a variety of animals, including dogs, cats, hamsters, goldfish, iguanas and boa constrictors.
Following that tradition, all animals are welcome Oct. 5.
Each pet will be blessed individually rather than as a part of a large service, Pastor Freye noted, and refreshments will be available for pets and their owners to enjoy as they relax in shaded areas while waiting.
“The expectation is that people will come, enjoy the food and fellowship until their animal has been blessed and then stay or leave as they choose,” Pastor Freye said.
Pet owners are asked to bring dogs on a leash and to hold smaller animals while awaiting the blessing, though they may be left in a cage if needed.
“Owners are always courteous and aware of the limitations and needs of their animals,” Pastor Freye said.
“The animal does not need to be caged unless the owner knows this is necessary under the circumstances,” Pastor Freye added. “Holding the animal provides for a more calm, relaxed experience during the blessing (for owner and animal).”
Pastor David Jahn will perform the blessing in Suntree, while Pastor Rick Funk will perform the blessing in Melbourne Beach.
For more information, call (321) 259-8515 or visit www.AdventBrevard.org.