Where Two Or Three Are Gathered Together In My Name, There Am I – But No Pets Allowed?
Pastor Ann Bullis of Wesley United Methodist Church in Sheboygan Wisconsin is a pioneer—a trend setter who has discovered a new way to keep church fresh and interesting. Pastor Ann Bullis allows pets during church services! No pet too big or too small. The Church offers full accommodations, and the result is a big success.
…for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird in the mountains, and the insects in the fields are mine. —Psalm 50:10-11
I like the thought of bringing my dog to church. I own a Maltese named Charlie. I don’t look very manly with him, but he is my very best friend. I am thankful to God for him, so why not!
“The Wesley United Methodist Church understands just how important pets are to many of the congregant’s families,” says Pastor Ann Bullis. “So when congregants asked to bring their dogs to service, we couldn’t think of a good reason to say no.”
Let’s face it; pets are comforting. They love us unconditionally. Leave home for a week and no one notices. Just check to the mailbox. But when you return, your pet offers a welcome home party for the long lost! They are like angels on earth, even when they pee on your couch and chew your favorite slippers. But hey, who or what is perfect other than Jesus?
I asked Pastor Ann several questions about her pet friendly services.
What made you decide to allow pets in church?
We have a very unique congregation. We realize that having pets in church would not work for everyone, but in our congregation, pets are an integral part of the lives of the people. Many here work with rescue groups within the community, and 75% of the congregation owns a dog. Animals have been and still are a part of our conversations each Sunday. One Sunday a comment was made, “I wish I could bring my dog with me to church; she goes everywhere else with me.” I mentioned it to our board members, and we decided there was no good reason not to allow them.
Is it just dogs or all animals?
As long as the pets are leashed and the owner is in control of the animal, we have no objection.
Would you baptize a pet if someone requested?
No, but we do have a pet blessing service.
How has allowing pets in church affected your attendance?
Surprisingly, we have received more members who don’t have pets. When asked why, they often respond that they were drawn to an open, inviting church which allows pets.
Do you think allowing pets in church during service has been a successful so far? Would you recommend other churches to allow pets?
Allowing animals was just a natural course of action for our church and church family. If your church feels it could do this, wonderful. As one woman wrote me after reading an article on us, “After my husband died, the only one I had left was my dog. I go everywhere with him. I wish I had a church which allowed me to bring him. If I lived nearby, I could go to church again.” Maybe if more churches would open their doors, we could reach more of the lonely people out there. Animals bring unconditional love. By the way, our church recently adopted an unwanted cat that was in the shelter for over a year. She now resides in our offices and receives more visitors than we do!
Is there a size or weight limit to the pets you allow at church?
Nope. No size or weight limit. We have had them all. We have pews for them in the back of the church which have special cloth with animal prints on them. We provide dog biscuits on the coffee table. We have an animal basket with all the necessities in case of an accident, water bowls in back, and when you enter the church, a paw welcome mat!