Blessing dogs - and their owners - at Stapleton
Minister Beatrice Anayo is building relationships with the dog-walkers who pass near the church every day
Encouraging the community to listen to God's voice speaking to us
“If any of our dogs was blindfolded, and placed in a crowd – once the owner opened their mouth and called their dog’s name, the dog would run straight to their owner.”
This was the beginning of a short talk by the Revd Beatrice Anayo, minister of Stapleton Baptist Church in Bristol. As she continued, dogs of all kinds and sizes began to join in noisily, but the point, that we are sounded by so many different voices and thoughts in this word, but we need to listen out for God’s voice speaking to us.
Beatrice’s ministry is supported by a grant from Home Mission, and although she’s not actually a dog lover herself, she has been joining in with what God has been doing through the dog-walking community that pass by near the church every day because of its proximity to the popular Frome Valley and Snuff Mills heritage site.
By allowing dog owners to bring dogs on leads into the weekly Community Coffee and Tea bar, a community has developed where people are able to be themselves and support one another. A few regulars have begun to attend on Sundays, and the dog blessing service was a natural development of what God has been doing.
After the talk and a couple of well known hymns, Beatrice laid one hand on each dog, and the other on its owner, saying “I bless you in the name of the Father, who created the universe, and Jesus Christ, who is our redeemer, and the Holy Spirit who is our sustainer. May you go in peace, and may the joy that passes all understanding abide in you, and your owner.”
There may be a mixture of reactions to the idea of a dog blessing service, but Beatrice and the church at Stapleton have succeeded in bringing this thriving community group to a place where they could hear (despite some barking) a heartfelt gospel call.
“It’s never too late” Beatrice concluded, “for any one of us to say ‘Lord, I need you’. Come into my heart…as the dogs fix their eyes on us, let us fix our eyes on Jesus.”
Ruth Whiter - Communications Co-ordinator, West of England Baptist Association
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