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Tag: dogs in church

Church in Los Angeles opens doors to dogs

When the Rev. Tom Eggebeen took over as interim pastor at Covenant Presbyterian Church three years ago, attendance was dwindling.

So Eggebeen decided to make dogs welcome at God’s house — by way of a 30-minute service complete with individual doggie beds, canine prayers and an offering of dog treats.

According to an Associated Press report, he hopes it will reinvigorate the church’s connection with the community, provide solace to elderly members and attract new worshippers who are as crazy about dogs as they are about  God.

Eggebeen said many Christians love their pets as much as human family members and grieve just as deeply when they suffer — but churches have been slow to recognize that love as the work of God.

“When we love a dog and a dog loves us, that’s a part of God and God is a part of that. So we honor that,” he explained.

Allowing dogs at services is a practice gaining a foothold nationwide — one that serves to boost attendance and address the spirituality of pets and the deeply felt bonds that owners form with their animals.

Laura Hobgood-Oster, a religion professor at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, says she’s found a growing number of congregations holding regular pet blessings, and more holding pet-friendly services as well.

“It’s the changing family structure, where pets are really central and religious communities are starting to recognize that people need various kinds of rituals that include their pets,” she said. “More and more people in mainline Christianity are considering them to have some kind of soul.”

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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