It was September 10th, and if you went down to the church that day, you were in for a big surprise - cherished chickens, playful pooches (at least 13 of them!) and a tiny tortoise called Shelly had come along with their faithful companions to the annual Pet Service at St James'. The dogs met some old friends and made potential new ones. Some just wanted to explore; others were happy to take a low profile beneath a pew. The chickens made gentle noises to remind us of their presence, a fitting sound track to the theme of the service, which was birds.
Two readings, one from the Noah's ark story in Genesis and the other St Francis' sermon to the birds, inspired an exploration of their beauty, how they have served their human friends and the need to protect them. One of the chickens made an appearance later on, sitting happily on its owner's arm or the back of the pew. And it was amazing how restrained the dogs were – no animals were hurt in the execution of this service!
The children had clearly been paying attention – they got the answers to the quiz absolutely right and all were rewarded with a soft toy animal to take home.
A huge thank you to all who helped and came on the day – providing refreshments, taking photos and bringing their families and other animals along to join in the fun.
AT BERWICK ST JAMES
The Autumn sunshine shone on St James church as the congregation arrived for the service. The colours outside were reflected in the flowers and produce inside.
The story of the feeding of the 5000, read beautifully by Eva, set the theme of sharing for the service. And the fruit and vegetables that had been donated were indeed shared – they went to the Christian charity Morning Star, based in Winterslow, to be made into soups etc for the homeless and vulnerable in the Salisbury area.
Most of the 47 strong congregation stayed for refreshments afterwards.