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Tag: churches

Communion for dogs? Why not?

An Anglican priest in Canada who drew criticism for feeding a communion wafer to a dog has apologized.

Donald Keith, 56, and Trapper, his German shepherd-Rhodesian ridgeback mix, frequented a park outside St. Peter’s Anglican Church in Toronto, and would sit on its steps as part of their daily routine.

Last month, Rev. Marguerite Rea welcomed both inside and gave them both a wafer during communion — an act of kindness that, as can happen when it comes to religion, created a furor. One parishioner filed a formal complaint with Anglican Bishop Patrick Yu, leading Rea to apologize this week.

“If I have hurt, upset or embarrassed anyone, I apologize,” Rea said on Sunday. “It was a simple church act of reaching out.”

Keith, a 56-year-old truck driver, got Trapper three years ago from a shelter, where, after three previous owners declared him unmanageable, he was likely going to be euthanized, according to the Toronto Star.

Every day, the two sit on the front steps of St. Peter’s for “reflection and spiritual renewal,” Keith told the newspaper. In late June, police urged the two to move off the spot, and Keith stepped inside the church to complain. Rea, the interim minister, invited Keith and Trapper to attend church.

When offered communion, Keith accepted. Trapper only sniffed the wine, but gobbled up the wafer.

Bishop Yu called the act a “misguided gesture of welcoming.”

But Rea says she’s received support through phone calls, visits and emails. The congregant who complained has since left the church, and others have no problem with the minister’s gesture.

“We’re all God’s creatures,” said one of them, Suzette Mafuna. “If a dog goes into a church, he’s entitled to every service that’s offered, including spiritual nourishment.”

(Photo: By Colin McConnell/Toronto Star)

When a house of God becomes a house of Dog

Here is the church. Here is the steeple. Open the doors and see all the … dogs?

A handful of churches have found a new way to fill empty pews, catching on to what a lot of hotels and other business establishments have already figured out: When you let people bring their dogs, you get more people.

A recent USA Today article looked at a dog-friendly church service in Omaha at the Underwood Hills Presbyterian Church — one where some dogs took seats on the pews, others sprawled on the floor and a few seemed intent on being social. But all eventually settled down for the sermon.

“Just relax,” the Rev. Becky Balestri, 51, said to open the service. “It’s like having kids in church.”

At least two other U.S. churches, in New York and near Boston, also allow dogs at regular weekly services, the article said.

“I hadn’t been to church in many, many years, and this gave me a reason to come back with my friend,” said one churchgoer who hadn’t attended church regularly since about 1988.

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