It was the first time First Christian Church of North Hollywood and Rev. Louise Sloan Goben wasn't sure what to expect on Sunday afternoon.
Yet, despite super hot temperatures and a matinee showing of Twelfth Night going on inside, a few dozen animals and their owners showed up for the first-ever Blessing of the Animals service at the church.
Some of them were regulars that came to church with their humans, like Lassie the collie, a pair of Beagles, a Pomeranian and others. Some people brought pictures of their pets, or names written on a sheet of paper that the pastors could bless. Some where newcomers.
“I had just heard about it, and wanted to bring Hera,” said Amy Coco, who is not a member of the congregation. Her English bulldog, Hera Bear, wore a pink tutu and seemed quite content despite the nearly 100-degree heat.
Scott Lewis’s turtle Shelly was pretty cooled off in a tank of water, and when it was time to get blessed, the turtle poked its head out.
He was with Mollie Webber, who carried a chicken named “Dinner.” They kept cool with a spray bottle during the short service. They are members of the congregation who live nearby in Burbank.
Some churches have the Blessing of the Animals in Spring, but this was being held in the fall for the celebration of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals.
Sally Hallada and her four boys came out to have their dogs blessed. Her sons were working at the church painting and cleaning up all day in preparation for some out-of-state mission work they hope to do.
Natalie Cohen brought her familiar three-legged-dog Jasper who had won dog competitions before, but had never been blessed by a pastor. "This is a first, he seems to be enjoying it."
Rev. Goben said she wasn't worried about any animal that might have frightened her. She looked forward to seeing a few hamsters, maybe even a snake, but maybe next time.
Meanwhile, the group or worshippers prayed and sang "All Things Bright and Beautiful" and a few of the dogs chimed in with their howls.
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