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‘Celebrating all of God’s creations’: Calvary Lutheran Church holds Blessing of Animals event

Furry and feathered pets of all shapes and sizes gathered with their owners on Wednesday at Calvary Lutheran Church for a “Blessing of the Animals” worship service in celebration of all of God’s creatures.

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Maren Eickmen pets her dog, Tucker, after a Blessing of the Animals service on Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2022, at Calvary Lutheran Church in Bemidji.
Maggi Fellerman / Bemidji Pioneer
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BEMIDJI — Furry and feathered pets of all shapes and sizes gathered with their owners on Wednesday at Calvary Lutheran Church for a “Blessing of the Animals” worship service in celebration of all of God’s creatures.

Taking place in the back parking lot, controlled animals on a leash or in a kennel were invited to attend along with their owners. The service included live praise and worship music from the church band, a memorial candle for pets who have passed and a hands-on blessing for the pets and the people who care for them the most.

“A big piece of this is just acknowledging that we are all part of a larger item and for a lot of households, animals are a large part of their family,” said the Rev. Jeremiah Holst. “We are taking time to recognize the gift that they are and have a service they’re able to participate in with us.”

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Reverend Jeremiah Holst participates in a prayer for the pets during a Blessing of the Animals service on Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2022, at Calvary Lutheran Church in Bemidji.
Maggi Fellerman / Bemidji Pioneer

While Holst and the Rev. Susan Tjornehoj made their way around the congregation to bless each pet one by one, a free-will offering was also going around where all proceeds went to support Great River Rescue.

Even if a pet couldn’t attend due to anxiety around other animals or other medical disabilities, owners could simply show Tjornehoj or Holst a picture to make sure even absent pets could be blessed.

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Trevor Johnson and Emma Brown hold their dogs, Murphy and Wembly, as they get a blessing from the Rev. Jeremiah Holst during a Blessing of the Animals service on Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2022, at Calvary Lutheran Church in Bemidji.
Maggi Fellerman / Bemidji Pioneer

Holst also added that this service is not quite a celebration for everyone, as it also serves as a more sovereign space to grieve pets who have passed away.

“A lot of people, especially folks that have lost their pets, lose a whole lot more. Oftentimes there’s not really any time to acknowledge the grief that goes with it,” Holst said. “This provides some of the frameworks for that as well so owners can be a part of the service even though their pets are no longer here.”

He also mentioned that the service is kept short and sweet, never any longer than 30 minutes, because the animals start to get antsy. The Reverends ended the service with “a round of appaws,” for God and the congregation’s love and care for His creations.

“It's a lot of fun and anyone is welcome anytime we hold (a pet blessing).” Holst concluded.

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The Rev. Susan Tjornehoj addresses the congregation during a Blessing of the Animals service on Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2022, at Calvary Lutheran Church in Bemidji.
Maggi Fellerman / Bemidji Pioneer
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Calvery Lutheran Church's worship band leads the congregation in a psalm during a Blessing of the Animals service on Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2022, in Bemidji.
Maggi Fellerman / Bemidji Pioneer
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The Rev. Jeremiah Holst, right, reads a prayer over with Bev and Jon Hodson's two labs, Belle and Evie, during a Blessing of the Animals service on Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2022, at Calvary Lutheran Church in Bemidji.
Maggi Fellerman / Bemidji Pioneer
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Mike Luebben and his dogs, Jerico and Cypress, participate in a Blessing of the Animals service on Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2022, at Calvary Lutheran Church in Bemidji.
Maggi Fellerman / Bemidji Pioneer
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Attendees sing during a Blessing of the Animals service on Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2022, at Calvary Lutheran Church in Bemidji.
Maggi Fellerman / Bemidji Pioneer

Maggi is a reporter at the Bemidji Pioneer focusing on outdoor and human interest stories. Raised in Aitkin, Minnesota, Maggi is a graduate of Bemidji State University's class of 2022 with a degree in Mass Communication.
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