In the lovely setting of the "the ruins" of St. Mary's Episcopal Church, about 30 pets and their owners attended a Blessing of the Animals ceremony on Sunday afternoon.
"The reason why we do this," said Reverend Elizabeth Rechter, "is that we're stewards of all creation. So we honor all the creatures. In addition to that, we have St. Francis. He was an extraordinary figure. He saw God in his own life and in his own heart. And it caused him to recognize that God was in every living creature. The tradition of blessing the animals really is around St. Francis' life."
"Our animals show us unconditional love which God shows for us," said Rechter. "We choose to do it always this time of year because the feast of St. Francis is October 4th. It's the most joyful service of the year. Look at the faces of the people. They just are happy. The animals are doing their work ... their ministry."
And there were happy faces.
He explained that when they pulled up in the car, the dogs got as excited as they do when they go to the dog park. Curtis thought the dogs felt the energy of the event.
"I want these guys in heaven with me," said Curtis. "Joey's 12 and Bear is 13, so I figure, how many chances do you get? Better now than never."
Chuck Simpson brought Maisey the doggy to her fourth annual blessing. Maisey was wearing a special handmade collar created by Simpson.
"It's the least I can do for her," said Simpson.
Bob Gunn played keyboard and Shauna McFadden played guitar at the ceremony.
Sam Hawkins shared some words at the gathering. He was joined by his wife Amanda Hawkins and Stewart the doggy.
Amanda Hawkins said, "We love [Stewart] ... and we see God in him. It just feels right to be here and get a blessing for him."
Melissa Stripling, Miles Stripling and Gerard Stripling brought Leila the doggy.
Miles Stripling said, "I just love my dog and she's really nice, and I just want the best for her."