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Spirit of Faith blesses cross and pets

By: Doreen Gosmire, Dakotas Conference communications

Cross And Pastor

Pastor John Anderson leads worship at Spirit of Faith in Woonsocket, SD. The service included blessing the cross. Photos courtesy of Spirit of Faith.

May the deep foundations of this cross reflect our deep rootedness in Christ. May the strength of the cross be a sign of our strong faith in God. May the outstretched bar be a sign of God’s welcome to all. May the beauty of the cross be a sign of the beauty of our hope. May the height of the cross be a symbol of our worship reaching to the heavens. And may this cross serve to draw all people to God, symbolizing God’s presence in our community today and for years to come. We, the people of Spirit of Faith, dedicate this cross to the glory of God. Amen.

This is the prayer recited by members of Spirit of Faith in Woonsocket, South Dakota. Members held worship outside to bless a cross and pets. 

“It was a powerful convergence. We are standing beneath the 50-foot cross and giving praise for all God’s creation,” said Pastor John Anderson, who serves the congregation. Spirit of Faith is a hybrid, ecumenical United Methodist and ELCA congregation.

In 2015, Spirit of Faith Lutheran-Methodist Church took a huge leap of faith to build a new church building. A successful funding campaign allowed the building to be constructed with the first worship service in December of 2018. 

There was a vision to add a cross to the new building. The congregation commissioned Dick Regynski to craft the cross. After it's construction and painting, the cross was placed in storage during the winter and the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic until it could be installed safely. Finally, this fall, members of the congregation installed the 1,750-pound symbol of faith. The Gospel of Mark highlighting Jesus’  instructions to "take up your cross and follow me," and the hymn  “Lift High the Cross.” were coincidentally the lesson and hymn Sunday, September 12, two days after it was installed. 

“It is a way to mark the building as a place to honor Jesus Christ. The church is the people not the building. So now we have a very visible symbol that we carry the cross as we live out our lives in the community and world,” said Pastor John. 

The giant symbol of faith, 1,750-pound, 50-foot high cross, constructed of steel beams, was blessed on Sunday, October 3, as part of worship. 

Blessings continued during the outdoor worship with the blessing of 20 plus pets. There were dogs, cats, goats, sheep, and a baby alpaca. First, the congregation offered a general blessing of all the pets. The general blessing was followed by Anderson blessing each animal individually.  

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Dr. John Anderson, who serves as the pastor at Spirit of Faith, blesses a baby alpaca.

Pastor Anderson adapted the blessing for pets from the United Methodist Book of Worship. The congregational prayer of pets focused on God’s redemptive power. 

“All animals share in Christ’s redemption of all God’s creation. We, therefore, invoke God’s blessing on these animals, and as we do so, let us praise the Creator and thank God for setting us as stewards over all the creatures of the earth.”

The individual blessing included the name of each pet. “(Name of animal), you were created by God, and you are loved by God. May you and your human family find joy and companionship all the days of your life.” 

Each of the animal’s owners received a pet tag with the word "Blessed" on it.  The tags are a tangible reminder of God’s love for each of us and the animal. 

“It was a fun, personal moment to ask each animal’s name and to see their excitement,” said Pastor John, who grew up around a pet store: his parents have owned for 45 years in Mitchell, SD, Ed’s Pet World. “I even titled my message for the day 'God’s Pet World!'”

UMC

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