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DANVERS — While no one really knows if all dogs go to heaven, Calvary Episcopal Church is giving area pooches and their owners improved odds with a new monthly worship service.
The first Perfect Paws Pet Ministry takes place on Sunday, May 16, from 5 to 5:30 p.m., in the church's Parish Hall.
After that, the church plans to hold the pet service on the third Sunday of every month, complete with communion for the humans who wish to partake and special blessings bestowed on pets and people alike. Dogs will get treats as part of the service.
Well-mannered, leashed dogs are invited. People can submit a paper prayer if their pets are sick, not good around other dogs or deceased. Prayers can also be offered for other types of pets.
The idea of the service is to take the unconditional love that pet owners feel for their animals and connect that to a feeling to something higher. The service is also meant to help someone who may be grieving from the loss of a pet.
"I think our hope is to meet people where the spirit is already active in their lives," the Rev. Thea Keith-Lucas said, "and their relationship with their animals is one where they are inspired by creation."
Owners' commitment to their pets has a meaning beyond just caring for animals. That love also shows caring for the world, of which all humans are stewards, Keith-Lucas said.
"As we talk together about commitment to these animals, it will spread out from there and deepen our commitment to all creation," Keith-Lucas said.
While the service will be a Christian one, it is open to pet owners who attend other churches or belong to other faiths.