COLUMBIA — When was the last time you looked over during church service and saw a dog sitting on the pew next to you?
During the anniversary week of St. Francis of Assisi's death on Oct. 3, 1226, two Columbia churches dedicated portions of their services to bless congregation members' animals and offer thanks for their companionship.
Calvary Episcopal invited pets to the Wednesday evening eucharist, or Lord's Supper. The pets were then escorted into the courtyard for a time of prayer in which praise was offered to God for the blessed animals. Five dogs, a cat and a snail named Gary after the snail on "Spongebob Squarepants," were there to receive blessings.
On Sunday, Missouri United Methodist Church held pet blessing in its courtyard facing Ninth Street. After singing hymns and reading passages from Genesis and Isaiah, pets paraded down the courtyard with their owners and lined up to be blessed by Pastor Jim Bryan.