Dogs attend church in Weymouth, USA

Escaping going to church for families in America can be difficult, but you’d think being a dog would give you the golden excuse not to go. Not so for dogs in Weymouth, Boston. The Pilgrim Congregational Church has opened up its doors to dogs for what they’ve dubbed the “woof ‘n’ worship” service.

Both owners and dogs are invited to the special services so that dogs can benefit from the teachings of the church.

Rev. Rachel Bickford explains the thought behind the idea for inviting dogs into her church.

The idea came to me as I was sitting reading the Bible with my two dogs at my feet. Psalm 150 says, ‘Praise the Lord, let everything that breathes, praise the Lord.’ And Psalm 148 reads, ‘Let all wild animals, creeping things and flying birds give God praise.’

So I thought wouldn’t it be a wonderful thing to let all things praise God together and have families bring their dogs to church.

This isn’t the first time that dogs have invited to churches in America, as Chicago’s Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd promoted dog walking services this summer, which it says went smoothly.

Although the services in Chicago were held outside, the “woof ‘n’ worships” will be held inside the church, each Sunday at 5pm.

We’re going to have doggy clean-up stations, but I’m not worried. Dog owners are very responsible folks. I fully expect it will be wonderful and that there will be a lot of giggles and all sorts of fun.

Things are so tough on everyone right now that we forget to thank God for the good things and find the miracles of everyday life. Our animals always bring that. If you can’t pay the oil bill or had a bad day at work, your dog doesn’t care. He just thinks you’re wonderful. Dogs listen, they don’t talk back, and they give unconditional love. . . .

I really see that as part of God’s blessing here on earth – to remind us what to be thankful for, and to find joy.

In addition the dog services, Bickford is also planning some puppy playgroups in an effort to attract more people into the church.

The idea of bringing the pets to church didn’t go down well with their insurers at first, who wanted to bar pit bulls from attending. However the church was able to convince them otherwise by paying extra on the insurance. All dogs have to remain on a lead though!

This was something I had prayed about and thought about. Dogs bring such hope in a world where we’re surrounded by such hopelessness. As I’ve gone through my ministry, I’ve noticed how dogs change people’s lives. Studies show they can lower blood pressure. . . . And I thought it would be just so much fun.