The Charlotte Congregational Church started its sixth Blessing of the Animals service Sunday with Senior Pastor Rev. Kevin Goldenbogen welcoming everyone. Everyone.
“Greetings to all of you – no matter how many legs you have, no matter how moist your nose,” he said.
Goldenbogen and Assistant Pastor Rev. Susan Cooke Kittridge blessed 23 dogs, four cats, four chickens, one hamster and a bearded dragon in the dappled sunlight that dropped through the leaves onto the lawn between the church and the Fellowship Hall. Five animals were blessed by phone as their people held up cell phone photos so the preachers could reach out and touch them over the airways.
The Blessing of the Animals portion of the service was introduced with Goldenbogen noting that this was more than just a sweet, cute service.
“This is part of an old tradition,” he said.
Before the service, Kittredge said that the first time she officiated at a Blessing of the Animals, she was the senior pastor at the Old Meeting House Center in East Montpelier. She said that a little girl had brought a tiny kitten to be blessed. When the service started the dogs in the congregation got excited and the kitten jumped out of the girl’s arms and ran into the woods.
“And that was the end of the service,” Kittredge said. “Everyone was up in the woods looking for the kitten.” The kitten eventually was found and returned to the little girl.
At this Sunday’s service in Charlotte, the animals all behaved like angels. The service ended with nary a snarl nor hiss. At the coffee hour, there were root beer floats. And dog treats.