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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Bring Fido to this fest

Tennessee church uses pet blessing as outreach

Imagine a sunny October Saturday afternoon, falling leaves and muffled sounds of bluegrass and gospel music coming from a carnival-like atmosphere in a church parking lot and school playground — all for the good of God’s creatures.

It's the annual Pet Fest and Blessing at Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church, Oak Ridge, Tenn. 

This is no ordinary blessing, though it began that way. In 2001 it was a small ceremony attended by a few parishioners and their pets. As it gained popularity, some members recognized a need for educating people about obtaining and caring for pets. Interest grew, more activities were added and Grace’s neighbor, Woodland Elementary School, became a partner. 

Stephen G. Damos, pastor of Grace, blesses one of the many dogs in attendance.
Stephen G. Damos, pastor of Grace, blesses one of the many dogs in attendance.

Now it’s a community event that features some 30 information booths staffed by animal rescue and adoption groups, humane societies and veterinary services. More than 400 people (and 300 animals, from llamas to ferrets) attend. And it takes some 60 church members to make this ministry-festival happen, with planning that starts each June.


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