When the donkey walked toward the priest, I knew this was not an ordinary blessing of parishioners.
This was the Blessing of God's Animals in Marvin at Saint Margaret's Episcopal Church this month.
“Then God commanded, ‘Let the earth produce all kinds of animal life …,'” read Father Todd Dill from Genesis 1:24-31a .
Richard Hoffman of Waxhaw brought his dog Gus, a 2-year-old rough-coat Jack Russell, and a 12-year-old miniature donkey, Buster.
The children's choir sang Hymn 405: “All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small, all things wise and wonderful, the lord God made them all.”
Cookie, a small dog, was the first to be blessed. The annual event also had a few cats.
Kevin Sells, treasurer at Saint Margaret's at 8515 Rea Road, explained how the church sits at the county's highest point.
“The man who sold our church the land four years ago thought that a church should rest on that spot. He tithed back 10 percent of his profit to the church.” When the concrete was poured, parishioners brought Sharpies to write Bible quotes on the foundation to represent “the true foundation of the church is based on the word of God.”
Sells shared another tidbit. A bronze victory lamb mounted at the exit of the sanctuary was saved from a bombed church in London in World War II. “The soldier brought it to Charlotte and years later, when he became ill, the church included him in their prayer list,” he said. “His widow donated the sculpture to the church after his death.”
All the animals were calm and willing, except for one close call. A startled dog named Rupert snapped at Father Dill.