Several furry friends received a blessing Saturday with donations benefiting the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 6602 in Hinesville and St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.
The event was organized by VFW Auxiliary member Barbara Mangler. She said they collected nearly $2,000 from the event and folks who just donated funds.
Dale Thornton, senior pastor of Hinesville First United Methodist Church, welcomed guests and their dogs at the small gazebo at Bradwell Park.
Thornton said he and his wife have owned Yorkshire terriers, which deeply enhanced their lives. He added pets provide people with unconditional love.
“They have a purity of love and devotion that sometimes we human beings lack,” he said. “The way that we care for animals as a species, it enhances our lives and gives us something that is God given into our lives. A recognition, an admiration, for God’s creation.”
The tradition of blessing animals dates back several centuries and is tied to St. Francis of Assisi, a Christian Saint known for his devotion to all of God’s creation including the animals and the environment.
Many Catholic and Christian churches honor St. Francis on his Feast Day, Oct. 4, by hosting pet blessing ceremonies.
Thornton said Christians and folks of the Jewish faith understand that animals will be a part of the final Kingdom of God.
“When all sin and death and crime and violence and suffering and those types of things melted away and God made the creation complete,” he said. “It is reminding once again that we are simply one part of God’s creation. The creation is much larger than we are. We recognize the God’s imprint is upon them (the animals).”
Thornton read from the Bible and spoke about Noah rescuing the animals from the flood.
“The animals of God’s creation inhabit the skies, the earth and the sea. They share in the fortunes of human existence and have a part in human life,” he said.
Thornton said the VFW organized this blessing in order to raise funds for the local auxiliary and their favorite cause, St. Jude’s Children Hospital.
“I am honored to be here along with the Veterans of Foreign Wars. We thank you for being here to support their causes,” he said.