The Rev. Arlene M. Tully jokes that there are some similarities between her dog and members of her congregation.
“He sleeps through my sermons like everyone else,” the Methodist minister said.
But there is someone that Kirby — the golden-lab retriever mix who is almost always at her side — reminds her of even more:
“Kirby is a living, breathing metaphor for God’s love,” she told the Bangor Daily News. “The way he expresses love is as unconditional as God’s love. He instantly and fully embraces every person that he meets and that is a more accurate metaphor for God’s love than human love.”
Kirby the Ministry Dog attends services at First United Methodist Church in Bangor, Maine. He’s present for church dinners and other functions. He accompanies her on home visits, and trips to nursing homes and hospitals. And everywhere they go together, she notes, Kirby has a way of connecting with people, and getting them to open up.
“He’s a catalyst for those kinds of conversations,” said Tully,
The 2½ -year-old dog was trained as a service dog by Canine Companions for Independence at its campus in Medford, New York.
If Tully tells him to “visit,” Kirby will put his head in the lap of a person. If she says “lap,” he’ll gently place his paw on the leg of the person he’s visiting. When she say’s “push,” he’ll open an automatic door by pushing the button.
Tully, 57, became the church’s pastor in July. While she grew up a Roman Catholic, she left the church as a college student. She worked in restaurant management for 25 years before attending Andover Newton Theological Seminary in Newton Centre, Massachusetts.
Kirby, her second “ministry dog,” came to live with Tully in February while she was pastor of Pleasant Street United Methodist Church in Waterville, and he’s been helping her reach out to people ever since.
“Together, we have an instant bridge to people that I alone might not have otherwise,” she said.
(Photo: Ashley L. Conti / Bangor Daily News)
Posted by John Woestendiek September 30th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, bangor, church, dog, dogs, god, kirby, maine, methodist, minister, ministry dog, pets, religion, retriever
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)
Posted by John Woestendiek July 29th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: anglican, animals, apologize, apology, bishop, canada, church, churches, communion, complaint, congregation, dog, dogs, donald keith, marguerite, minister, news, ohmidog!, patrick yu, pets, rea, reverend, st. peters, toronto, trapper, wafer, wine, worship