Shield Saint Luke's Episcopal Church
210 E. 9th St., Bartlesville, OK  74003
Phone:  (918) 336-1212     FAX (918-336-2557)
Email
:
Get Directions
 
Organization

Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma
Contents
Diocesan Convention

Spanish Cursillo Takes Place this Weekend

Disaster Preparedness and Recovery Up-Date

Safeguarding God's Children

EfM Retreat Scheduled for October

Save the Date! Liturgy Festival Eucharist

Message from the Presiding Bishop

TREC Churchwide Meeting on October 2

Creating Common Ground

Youth Interfaith Tour

St. Augustine's of Canterbury to Host Blessing of the Animals

Fr. Alan Sutherland, St. Michael's, Norman, Retiring

Redeemer, OKC, Hosts Church in the Park

Enrollment Open for The Assemblies

Altered Coming in November

Episcopossee - Tulsa

FORMA Conference to be Held in Houston, TX

New Resource Book from Bishop's Lecture Series

Activities for the Liturgical Calendar

Tithing Halloween

Blessing of the Animals Top 10 Tips

Diocesan Events

 

October 4

Newcomer Ministry Project

Trinity, Tulsa

 

October 13 - 14

Retired Clergy, Spouse & Widow's Fall Gathering

St. Crispin's

 

October 18-19

Education for Ministry Retreat

The Rev. Dr. Christopher Bryan

St. Crispin's Conference Center

 

October 7 - 9

Clergy Conference

St. Crispin's

REGISTRATION DEADLINE SEPTEMBER 22

 

October 25

Liturgy Worship Festival

St. Paul's Cathedral

 

2015

 

March 20-22

Make My Mission St. Crispin's

Mission Camp 

 

 

Diocesan Wide Events

 

September 27

Northeast Regional Meeting for Women

St. John's, Vinita


October 3 - 5

Fall Retreat for Women

St. Crispin's


 

October 18 - 19

Education for Ministry Retreat

(Open to all)

The Rev. Dr. Christopher Bryan

St. Crispin's Conference Center

 


           

Congregational Events


 

October 3 - 4

Good Shepherd, Sapulpa

Homemade Goodies, Food and Bazaar

9 - 5

 

October 4

St. Michael's, Norman

Michaelmas Country Fair

9 - 3

 

October 4

St, Augustine's of Canterbury, OKC

Canterbury Faire

9 - 4

 

October 13

St. Mary's, Edmond

Spiritual Quilting Presentation with Diane Swartzendruber

6:30 p.m.


 


               

Community Events

 

October 15

Effective Communications for Churches and Non-Profits Seminar
Henderson Hills Baptist Church, Edmond

November 14 - 16
6th Annual Conference on Autism Spectrum Disorders
Embassy Suits, Norman

December 1
Together for Health
Francis Tuttle Career Tech-Reno Campus

December 4
Together for Health
O.U. Schusterman Center
Tulsa

December 4
Wrightslaw Special Education Law and Advocacy Conference
University of Central Oklahoma
Constitution Hall
Focusing on special education law, rights and responsibilities, SMART IEP's

 
+
               

Bishop's Calendar


September 28

St. John's
Norman

October 7 - 9
Clergy Conference
St. Crispin's

October 12
All Saints', Miami

October 19

St. John's, OKC

 

October 26

St. Peter's Tulsa

 

Companion 
Diocese
Uruguay
            

Uruguay

     

 

  Bishop uruguay

Bishop Pollesel

 

Holy God, source of healing and of peace, bless with your grace the companion dioceses of  Oklahoma and Uruguay. Through our partnership one with another may we grow in mutual affection and communion, seek a more profound experience of truth, build up the Church in unity and give glory to Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen.

 

 

New Web site:

 

 http://uruguay.anglican.org/

 

 

 

 

 

Diocesan Newsletter

The next Diocesan Newsletter
 will be 
Friday, October 10, 2014.

We Are Epiok.org

September 26, 2014

Issue 35

From the Diocese
Diocesan Convention - November 7 - 8, 2014

Information is now available on line with regards to our up-coming Diocesan Convention. Click here for the forms. 

The convention will be held at The Reed Center, Midwest City. St. Augustine's of Canterbury, OKC, is our host congregation. 

Pre-Convention Regional  Meetings

Date Region Time and Place
Sunday
September 28
Southeast 3 p.m.
St. Luke's Ada
Saturday
October 11
Southwest 10 a.m.
All Saints', Duncan
Sunday
October 12
Northeast 2 p.m.
St. John's, Vinita
Saturday
October 18
Northwest 10:30 a.m.
St. Matthew's, Enic
Sunday
October 19
OKC 2 p.m.
St. Mary's, Edmond



Youth Lock-in will be on Friday night of Convention at St. Augustine's of Canterbury, OKC. The youth have been asked to lead worship on Saturday morning at Convention. 
Spanish Cursillo Takes Place this Weekend

The Spanish Cursillo will begin on Thursday, September 26, at St. Crispin's. Prayers are asked for the team members as they begin this event:

Alex Saenz
Maria Atondo
Julio Morua
Rossy morua
Jose Hinojosa
Aurora Baranegra
Irma Vasquez
Iris Correa
Nelly Barco
Alfredo Martinez
Emilio Arroyo
Carmen Flores
Luis Hernandez
Daniel Gudino
Linda Phillips
Liliana Barron
The Rev.Naty
The Rev. Miller
The Rev. Clark 
The Rev. Sandra 

 

The Closura will be on Sunday, September 28, at 3 p.m. in the dining hall at St. Crispin's.  All are invited to attend.
Disaster Preparedness and Recovery Up-Date

Sandra Castillo:  A Woman As Determined as the Guymon Wind

The winds and the
Rev. Castillo being interviewed at Fiesta on September 21
weather in and around Guymon are harsh and determined. But as soon as you meet Rev. Sandra Castillo, you know you are meeting a woman with conviction, great strength of character and determination. She reminds me, to look at her, of early women pioneers, women with courage and a selflessness of spirit. Sandra is the type of woman who can turn IMpossible and hopeLESS into positives.

Sandra is the Vicar at St. Stephen's in Guymon, a parcel of land cut from the same cloth as Sandra's character, stalwart to survival against the elements of the panhandle of Oklahoma. Sandra came to the Episcopal Diocese from Chicago. At St. Peter's, she served a two year curacy following ordination. It was her first call. It was during this time that Sandra found herself in Gulfport MS. to provide pastoral care to the victims of the area, post- Katrina. She says nothing could have prepared her for the effects of the hurricane's devastation. In her own words, "Cement slabs marked the previous location of homes; semi's stuck out of the Gulf water at strange angles like giants toys. Scattered intermittently along the highway were large hills of clothing..." left there by well-meaning people for anyone to take. 
(L-R) Janet Rubio, Guymon Public Library; Teri Mora, OPSU; Jesus Ramirez, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services; Soila Medina, City of Guymon,;Rev. Sandra Castillo, St. Stephen's Episcopal
Two memories of the people stand out in her mind, a woman with children hardly noticing her two little boys who were loud and crying and wanting her attention. She couldn't give it, Sandra says, because she was in shock. And the emotional father who recounted to Sandra nearly losing his infant child to the waves. All Sandra could do was pray with them. 

Sandra's determination to make a difference with people does not end with disaster relief and recovery, although, it is a perfect location for severe weather of several kinds and she is excited about preparing her congregation for a disaster plan. Sandra's passion is for immigration reform. And because a large meat processing plant in Guymon employs so many immigrants from all over the world, her determination to help people includes helping many undocumented young people who have arrived in Guymon in search of a better life. She assists them through "DACA" (the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival Program) and even assists families with baby food, clothes, furniture and winter coats. " I work with an entire generation of good people who want to get involved. There are so many that want a better life. That is why they come all this way."

Sandra is active; she drives hours to meetings, doctors' appointments and for other "errands". She is one of those who has the farthest to go and the most to do. But she is in the perfect spot to go and do. She is as determined as the Guymon winds.
Safeguarding God's ChildrenSafeguarding

Who needs Safeguarding God's Children? Here's who: All clergy whether stipendiary, non-stipendiary, or otherwise who are engaged in ministry or service to the church; all persons who teach, supervise or assist with supervising children or youth in ministries, programs or activities more often than occasionally. All paid or volunteer Church Personnel whose work regularly takes them throughout the facility or grounds; all persons who provide transportation to children or youth without other adults in the vehicle more than occasionally; all vestry members or members of similar decision making groups who have the authority to approve the creation of ministries, programs or activities for children or youth.

September 27   
St. Mary's
Edmond
10 - 2
Please call the church to register - 405 341 3855

October 21
Grace, Ponca City
6 - 9 p.m.
Please call the church to register - 580 767 7609
EfM Retreat Scheduled for October

Here's an opportunity to gather with others in EFM and The Rev. Dr. Christopher Bryan, the C.K. Benedict Professor of New Testament at the School of Theology at the University of the South, and the editor of the Sewanee Theological Review. He is the author of two biblical commentaries, on the gospel of Mark and the letter to the Romans.

 

The theme will be around the authority of the Bible, and there will be a fairly heavy emphasis on the new curriculum and on theological reflection.

 

The event will be held October 18-19 at St. Crispin's. 

Current or graduate EfM participants, mentors (active and retired) and anyone interested in the program or hearing Dr. Bryan are invited. 

 

Six break-out sessions will be offered, along with opportunities for small group discussions during lunch and free time.

 

Click here for brochure and registration information.

Liturgy Leadership Festival Scheduled for October 25, 2014


What is a Liturgy Leadership Festival? It is our first Diocesan Wide event for those who are acolytes, Acolyte Masters, Vergers, Members of the Altar Guild, Eucharistic Bread Bakers, Flower Arrangers, Lay Eucharistic Ministers or Lectors, do needlework or sewing, Usher, Greet or Thurifer OR WANT TO LEARN ANY OF THESE SKILLS. 

The event will be held at St. Paul's Cathedral and will run workshops on all of the above. Katrian D. Packard, President of the National Altar Guild, will be here to work with those on the Altar Guild.

We will open registration at 8:45 and our 1st set of workshops will begin at 9:15. There will be two opportunities to attend workshops that day and then lunch, followed by a Festival Eucharist and Group Commissioning.

The cost is $20 per person and lunch is included. ADDED BONUS: if 5 members of your congregation attend, a 6th person can attend for free!

Acolyte Masters - bring your banners, streamers and stands, along with your acolyte robes. We will also award the Bishop's Bowl to one Acolyte Team!

Click here for brochure and registration information.
The Episcopal Church Events and Information

Message from the Presiding Bishop

 

To all the people of God in The Episcopal Church:

 

It is a great joy and privilege to serve as your Presiding Bishop.  I have been blessed to be able to meet and build relationships with people around the globe - in every diocese in this Church, most of the provinces of the Anglican Communion, our full communion partners (ELCA, Moravian Church, Old Catholics of the Union of Utrecht), as well as civic leaders and leaders of other denominations and faith traditions.  That relational work is fundamental to the reconciliation we seek in Christ.  As bridges are built, more and more people can begin to cross the divides between us, and God's dream begins to take flesh in a more just and peaceful world. 

 

Together, we have navigated a season of extraordinary change in recent years.  Our Christian values have been challenged and we are becoming clearer and more confident about the faith we share.  Today we are far more cognizant of the diversity of this multinational and multicultural Church, and the great blessing of the diverse peoples and cultures we represent.  Our life as a Church is enriched by the many gifts God has given us in people and contexts around the world.  Together we are striving to live out the Five Marks of Mission, we are exploring new and creative ways of engaging the societies around us with the good news of God in Christ, and we are increasingly willing to spend ourselves and the resources God has given us for the healing of the world.  We are more attuned to voices crying in the wilderness, those living at the margins of human communities, and those without a voice, including this fragile earth, our island home.  Together, we are moving into God's future with courage, boldness, and the humility of knowing there is always more to learn.  For all that hope-filled movement, I give thanks in abundance.

 

I have spent many months in discernment about how I am being called to serve God's people and God's creation in this season.  I have resisted the assumption by some that presiding bishops can only be elected to serve one term, knowing the depth of relational work and learning that is involved in this ministry.  There is a tradeoff between the learning curve and the ability to lead more effectively as a result of developed relationships both within and beyond this Church.  At the same time, I recognize that standing for election as Presiding Bishop carries the implicit expectation that one is ready to serve a full term.  I do not at present believe I should serve and lead in this ministry for another nine years.

I believe I can best serve this Church by opening the door for other bishops to more freely discern their own vocation to this ministry.  I also believe that I can offer this Church stronger and clearer leadership in the coming year as we move toward that election and a whole-hearted engagement with necessary structural reforms.  I will continue to engage us in becoming a more fully diverse Church, spreading the gospel among all sorts and conditions of people, and wholeheartedly devoted to God's vision of a healed and restored Creation.

 

I will continue in discernment about the ministry I may be called to in the coming years, but my present focus is and will remain on being the vigorous and faithful leader I believe I am called to be.  God has called us all to be instruments of shalom, and we have miles to go before we live in that world of justice and peace.  We are marching upward to Zion, the beautiful city of God. 

 

Siyahamba!

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church

TREC Churchwide Meeting on October 2

 The Task Force to Reimagine the Episcopal Church (TREC) will convene a churchwide meeting on October 2 at 7:30 pm Eastern time (6:30 pm Central/5:30 pm Mountain/4:30 pm Pacific/3:30 pm Alaska/1:30 pm Hawaii).

The meeting will be webcast live from Washington National Cathedral. Although the meeting will be open to the entire church, TREC encourages attendance from each diocese: a bishop, a lay deputy, a clerical deputy, and one person under the age of 35.

In a statement about the event, TREC members said: "We are extraordinarily grateful for the amount of feedback we have received about our recent letter to the church outlining some of our thinking and developing proposals.  Members of TREC have been carefully reading the many e-mails, blogs, and conversations across social media that have emerged in response to the letter. We are hopeful that this vigorous conversation that has already begun will be of great value to the church as it prepares to take up the issue of re-structuring and re-imaginging at General Convention next year, and that the Holy Spirit will continue to work through this collective discernment to set us on the most faithful path forward. We look forward to continuing that conversation on October 2, and we will be carefully considering all of the feedback we've received as we meet October 3 and 4 to begin preparing our final report and specific recommendations to the 78th General Convention."

There is no fee to attend in person or to watch the live webcast.  However, registration for in-person attendance is requested; register here. Registration is not required but is encouraged for viewing the webcast.

The purpose of the meeting is "to receive responses to the proposed recommendations to be brought forward to the 78th General Convention." 

The planned format will be short concise presentations followed by substantive question and comment periods. Questions, concerns and comments will be taken from the live audience in addition to email and twitter.  Questions can be emailed here reimaginetec@gmail.com or on Twitter here @ReimagineTEC.
TREC's final report to General Convention is due by November 30 for the 78th General Convention in Salt Lake City, Utah in July 2015.

For more info, questions or comments, contact TREC members at reimaginetec@gmail.com
Community Events and News
Creating Common Ground

On September 26 , The Interfaith Alliance, YouthLEAD OKC, The Interfaith Alliance Amazing Faiths Youth, Respect Diversity Foundation and the Boys and Girls Club, will offer a program for Youth Creating Common Ground.  This will be offered at the Boys and Girls Club, located at 36th and Western, OKC. The purpose of this event is to provide youth with a positive experience about diversity, teach about themselves and provide tolerance/respect skills that can be used. It is anticipated that 100 - 150 youth will be in this program, and will be coordinated with adults and youth from various denominations who have been trained to serve as facilitators.

We have three individuals participating in this event: Sherry Sullivan, St. Paul's Cathedral, Adam Naff, and Victoria Dina both from St. Andrew's, Stillwater. Victoria is a graduate of the 1st Episcopal Youth Leadership Academy, and we are thrilled she is using her skills in such a wonderful way. 
Congregational Events and News
Youth Interfaith Tour 
Group from St. Christopher's, Midwest City, at first stop of Interfaith Tour


 This past Sunday youth from our Dioceses and their sponsors participated with over 250 youth from around the metro area in the Oklahoma Conference of Churches Youth Interfaith Tour. They gathered at the Hindu Temple of Oklahoma where they were greeted warmly by their leadership and their priest explained to us about the Temple, their religion, and talked about their faith. Then everyone loaded onto buses and traveled to the Mayflower United Church of Christ. There, the youth of Mayflower Church shared with the group their beliefs, ideas, worship style, and focus on outreach. It was a wonderful presentation and they treated the group to a great snack before loading the buses again.  The next stop was at the Grand Mosque of OKC. There the group was warmly greeted as they gathered at the doors to remove our shoes and enter into the main prayer room. The president of the mosque and their Imam shared about their faith and daily prayers. The Imam chanted some of their prayers for the group and it was absolutely a beautiful and moving experience. Before the group loaded the buses to return to the Hindu Temple, the members of the Grand Mosque had a reception.
 
Overall, the Interfaith Tour was an incredible experience.  The conversations with the youth were insightful, loving, inquisitive, and encouraging.  The youth shared how similar we really all are and were intrigued by the differences.  We were challenged to be able to share our similarities and our differences in a way that could foster understanding and break down barriers.  The whole day was all about learning, understanding, building relationships and sharing love for each other.  It was a day filled with hope and grace.
 
The Diocese of Oklahoma had participants from St. Paul's Cathedral, St. Christopher's, Midwest City, St. John's, Norman, and St. Mary's, Edmond. 
St. Augustine of Canterbury to Host Blessing of the Animals

The celebration to honor St. Francis of Assisi will take place on Sunday, October 5th at 5:00PM. The public is invited to bring their feathered, furry, or finned friend to receive a blessing at this fun service. The church is located at 14700 N. May Ave. For more information please contact the church at: 405-751-7874 or visit the web at: staugustine.episcopaloklahoma.org.

Fr. Alan Sutherland, St. Michael's, Norman, Retiring
 
 

After 34 years of Episcopal ministry, Fr. Alan Sutherland will be retiring, on October 31st 2014.  A final service for him will be taking place on October 5th, 2014. This service will take place at St. Michael's Episcopal Church, Norman, Oklahoma.  It is called, "A Service for the Ending of Pastoral Relationship and Leave-taking from a Congregation."

 

St. Michael's Episcopal Church extends an invitation to you to be a part of this service on October 5th, at 6:00 p.m. 

 

A reception will follow in the St. Michael's Ingathering Space.  Attire is informal casual.  

Redeemer, OKC, Holds Church in the Park


 
The Vestry of the Church of the Redeemer in Oklahoma City sponsored its annual fall fellowship -"Church in the Park"- at Edwards Park, located at N.E. 15th and Bryant Streets, on Sunday, September 7, 2014. The church service, led by ourRector, Fr. Morgan Ibe, included communion for approximately fifty parishioners, their families and friends. Fr. Ibe's homily urged us to hope, stand firm in our convictions, and move forward.

The picnic followed the service. The menu included our traditional favorites of fried chicken and barbecue ribs. For the first time, we enjoyed a popular Mexican dish- tacos al pastor with all the trimmings. There were also salads of all descriptions. 

We share with you these photos as evidence that our fall fellowship was the best ever and enjoyed by all in attendance.

Enrollment is now open for kids to sign up for The Assemblies! 

 

Hosted by the St. Nicholas Guild of St. Paul's Cathedral and the women of All Soul's in OKC,  the purpose of The Assemblies is to teach young people an appreciation of dancing, the social graces and consideration for others. The Assemblies brings together 3rd through 6th grade students to fellowship in a positive, safe and fun atmosphere. A total of four dance lessons and two social dances will be held on Friday's throughout the school year. For additional information and to reserve your spot please email Buffy Heater at bufpufokc@hotmail.com by September 30th. Tuition of $150 can be brought to the first dance lesson (country-western genre) on October 3rd, 6:30pm - 8:00pm, at All Soul's Family Life Center, 6400 N. Penn, OKC. Proceeds from The Assemblies are used to support a variety of children's projects. Come join in the dancing fun! 


Young Adults Events and Information
Altered Coming in October

Mark your calendar now for the next Altered event, October 31 - November 2, 2014, to be held at St. Crispin's. Altered is for young adults, ages 19 - 30 year olds. 

It is a weekend of exploring your faith, personal growth, meeting other young adults, worshiping God, singing, reconnecting with God, thinking about your life purpose, stepping back from your busy life, and especially relaxing! This retreat is run by and for young adults, led by Episcopal lay and clergy leaders from around the diocese. This event came from the Vocare model but has been up-dated to fit the current needs of young adults.

Youth Events and News
Youth
Episcoposse - Tulsa

The purpose of Episcoposse is to bring together Tulsa area youth to form a community where they can learn, grow and live into their faith.  By functioning in a collective environment we seek to offer the vast strengths and talents of each parish so that the young people of the Episcopal Church have the best tools available to accompany them on their spiritual journeys. 

9/28 - Service Night - leaf raking?
 
(Episcoposse usually meets on Sundays from 4-6 pm unless otherwise noted.) 
Christian Formation News 
2015 FORMA Conference to be Held in Houston, TX

Here's a great opportunity for those in Christian Formation. The 2015 FORMA Conference will be held January 28 - 30, at  the Magnolia Hotel, Houston, TX.

Province VII has awarded $300 to each diocese to reduce the conference cost by $100 for 3 individuals. We will match the $300, which can be applied to your travel or hotel!

This would be a great time to attend, as these conferences are usually held somewhere in the east. 

If you are interested in attending, contact Sabrina Evans at sevans@epiok.org. It is a first come, first serve basis
New Resource Book from Bishop's Lecture Series

Lisa Kimball spoke about a book, Networked - The New Social Operating System, by Lee Rainie and Barry Wellman. We now have that in our resource room. If you are interested in reading it, contact Sabrina Evans at sevans@epiok.org. We will be glad to mail it to you.
Activities  for Liturgical Calendar

liturgical calendarPrintable Liturgical Calendar spinning wheelhttp://www.catholicicing.com/ 
  
Liturgical calendars to color from Jenifer Gamber - http://myfaithmylife.org/liturgical-calendar-2013-14/ 
Tithing Halloween

 Generosity Leads to Joy 
Stewardship is "taking care of the earth and all who live on it."
Tithing is "sharing 10% of what God has given us."

"Tithing Halloween" is a fun and successful way to help parishioners of all ages understand the concepts of stewardship and tithing.

The project is introduced in the weeks prior to Halloween, and parents are asked to:

1. Talk with their children before they go "trick or treating," and then
2. Guide their kids through the activities after they return home with their treats.

Goals of "Tithing Halloween":

· The awareness of our duty as Christians to share our abundance to do God's work and help others
· The practical understanding of the tithe as 10%: 1 out of every 10
· The understanding that to "love our neighbors" includes more than the people who live next to us, and even includes people we may not know or like
· Observing the many needs in the world around us (both near and far) and deciding how to use our available resources to help meet those needs
· Realizing that one person cannot possibly meet every identified need, which means we have to decide where and how we will choose to give our gifts
· Understanding that by putting our gifts together with other people's contributions, more needs can be met, and more of what God calls us to do can happen.

We give families suggestions of how to figure out what 10% is, (view our brochure) tell them to whom the church will be donating the candy, make suggestions of other places the candy can go (if, for example, they cannot make it to church on Sunday, or if they want to give some through the church and some on their own), and invite the adults to participate, too.

"Tithing Halloween" is truly formational. It provides many opportunities for thought, discussion and learning, and it is a great way to teach and nurture generosity and stewardship. And it's fun, too! When the candy is gathered on the Sunday after All Saints Day, it is amazing to see that when everyone's little bit is combined with the gifts from everyone else, the resulting pile is huge!

One unanticipated benefit is that adults learn as much or more than the kids. When parents see what a difference it makes that everyone participates even if they only have a little to give, they realize that every pledge to the church makes a difference (Halloween is, of course, usually during our pledge drive); combined with the gifts of others, ministry can be funded.

Note: Another surprise was that in our first year of doing this, more than one family shared that when their kids saw how much they had left over (the 90%), they wanted to give away more to help the kids who were in the hospital and couldn't go "trick or treating." They took a second pile of 10%... and then a third... and a couple families ended up giving away more than they kept - and they had fun doing it.

Tithing Halloween is a wonderful example of generosity leading to joy. And, as the Bible says in Nehemiah 8:10, "the joy of the Lord is our strength!"

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Mary Perrin is the rector of St. Martin of Tours Episcopal Church in Kalamazoo, Michigan, a vital, joy-filled, generous community in the Diocese of Western Michigan. Mary also serves on the diocesan Standing Committee and on The Episcopal Church's Lifelong Formation Council. 
Blessing of the Animals Top 10 Tips

Many churches and faith communities offer animal blessing ceremonies. St. Francis Day (October 4th) is a common date around which these events are held. If your church is offering a blessing of the animals - or if you are interested in starting one - take a look at these 10 tips.
 
1. Start small
These events can build over time. If you decide to make it a signature event, start publicizing with flyers and invitations. Have parishioners give them to friends, neighbors, or anyone they see walking a dog.  This is a great, low pressure way for people to invite others to church.

2. Recognize departed pets
Include a prayer for animals who have died.  This tip comes from a post by The Rev. Dr. Victoria Weinstein.

3. Remember the necessities
If your event is outside, provide shade, water, and designated areas for animals to do their business.  These tips come from the 10 commandments of animal blessings.

4. Bless them in the church - go for it!
Crazy right? C'mon, consider holding the blessing inside the church. Fr. Marty Zlatick is the rector at St. Joseph's in Boyton Beach, Florida, which hosts one of the largest and well organized blessings events in the country.

Marty explains, "The novelty of animals in church itself draws people to the event.  For the first years I was here, the volunteers always covered all the floors with dropcloths that were taped down.  It created a walking health hazard for the humans.  I asked how many pet 'accidents' we had in previous years, and no one could remember any.  We stopped doing that 10 years ago, and have had very few accidents.  We have to get the carpets cleaned periodically anyway - so we just schedule the cleaning right after the event."

5. Give out certificates 
People really do appreciate something to mark and remember the occasion.  They will save it for many years!

Here is a sample certificate: Blessing of Animals certificate
Note: at St. Joseph's they don't give out the certificate on that day. Rather, people fill out a form with name and address, and the church then mails the certificates to them.  (The bonus, a ready made mailing list with which to publicize future events!)

6. Offer St. Francis medals
This site offers the best medals I have found, and the price is very good. St. Francis Medals. I ordered 100, and they came in about a week - they are terrific.  St. Francis is on one side, with "pray for us" on the back. You can tie each medal onto a small piece of ribbon; that way, people can attach them to a pet collar.

7. Add something extra - special guests
People will come to have their own pets blessed, but "special guests" can increase attendance and lead to great publicity.  Some examples of whom to invite:
· Local pet shelter (have them bring animals available for adoption, ask your congregation to donate needed supplies)
· Police K-9 department or other service dogs
· Police mounted division (!)
· Area veterinarians

8. Solidify a strong group of volunteers 
Consider making volunteer T-shirts or badges to designate them. Some volunteer tasks:
· Extra greeters in the parking lot and at church entrances to welcome and direct guests
· Someone to take pictures
· Someone to hand out medals, certificates, or forms for certificates
· Multiple "traffic control" volunteers to keep things moving and organized

9. Invite the local press
Newspapers love getting shots of animals and community members. What better way to have your church end up on the front page?

10. Offer a nice clear bulletin
If you are printing a bulletin, make it clear and easy to follow. The following is from Bethesda by the Sea in Southeast Florida.
Sample St. Francis Bulletin
(Note that this document for sample use only. You must have your own permissions to print copyrighted music.)

 11. Focus on the BLESSING
With all these details, don't lose sight of the reason why people come: that moment when a pet is blessed in the name of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Make sure there is enough time, enough room, and enough clergy to make each blessing special.
Of course, every clergy person has different notions of how and why to bless. For many, it is about blessing the whole relationship of pet and owner, as well as the household which nurtures that relationship. Within the context of your community, and in keeping with your theology, decide how best to articulate your blessing...and go for it!

Article from Building Faith Blog

Back to Top 

Contact Information
Sabrina Evans
(405) 232-4820
sevans@epiok.org