The Blog

A Canine Congregation: Has Your Church Gone To The Dogs?

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I love my dog. Some might even say I worship my dog. I've already dedicated a post or two to him and have been known to throw the gratuitous mention around in others. Anyway, the point is that most people know how much I love my dog (clearly, it's no secret) and most people also know that I'm on this so-called Spiritual Journey, and so I suppose it makes sense that I've been forwarded this article about an Upper East Side church welcoming pooch parishioners into the fold about 10 times in the last 2 weeks.

Here's the story: the Church of the Holy Trinity, episcopalian and located on Manhattan's Upper East Side (88th between 1st and 2nd Ave), welcomes, nay, encourages members to bring their dogs. According to the NY Post:

"It started because a parishioner was sick one weekend and felt like she could either take her dog for a walk or go to church, but not both," says the Rev. Michael Phillips, rector of the Church of the Holy Trinity.

"Then she thought, 'Why not combine them?' and she brought her dog to church. It's been happening ever since."

Now, I think this is a grand idea. I'm all for pets being allowed more places (namely, on the grass at city parks, but that's a whole other post) and I really appreciate it when awesome restaurants and/or bars let me bring my chubby little monster inside or into their back gardens -- I'm going to refrain from naming said places for prohibitive reasons such as not getting them in trouble and therefore losing all dog-toting rights -- but I'm not sure I need to bring my dog to church. There are two reasons for that. Firstly, I don't go to church. And secondly, my dog is, well, infamously (and audibly) gassy, and we all know how awkward an inadvertent toot during the sermon can be, let alone one from your dog.

But while I don't get it for me, I do understand the excitement. I know how much little Cheeseburgs means to me, so I can only imagine how happy a devout and dog-centric episcopalian would be about this news. A canine-friendly congregation. It's almost too good to be true!

But I've gotta say that in checking out the Church of the Holy Trinity's website, I found one little gem that seemed far more worthy of our attention

Whoever you are, parishioner, friend, neighbor, or seeker, we are honored that you are visiting this website. We invite you to become part of the ministry and spiritual growth happening at Holy Trinity, a community embracing all people, across the spectrum of cultural, ethnic, racial, gender, sexual orientation, and class diversity, as full members of the household of God.

Now, I don't know if this is common, or if this is an episcopalian thing (because, to be honest, I'm not even sure what sort of Christianity episcopalian is), but I'm a lot more excited about this than I am about the chapel being Cheeseburger-friendly. Dogs don't care if they can go to church -- dogs are just as happy sneakily curled up on the sofa chewing a Nylabone while their owners are off saving their souls. And I'm also pretty sure it's not possible to make any sort of cogent argument about the history of discrimination against dogs. Humans, on the other hand, have a sordid and sickening history with prejudice in many and most churches.

So, let's turn our attention and our applause not to the inclusion of our canine companions who, let's be honest, could not care a less, but to the understanding and compassion this church has shown towards its human companions. It's long overdue.