Stoke Newington church to host service – for dogs

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A non-religious church in Stoke Newington has given paws for thought after announcing it will host a special service this month – for dogs. New Unity’s atheist minister Rev Andy Pakula said the event, called ‘Believe in Dog’, is an opportunity to celebrate our canine companions.

He said we can learn a lot from dogs: “For a start, there’s unconditional love. And there’s being in the moment. Eagerness. Loyalty. All great qualities that we can learn from. That’s why we’re hosting a special gathering for dogs and the people who love them.”

The 20 January service will include short readings, some “doggy-related singing”, and a chance to share stories and memories about current and former pets. Anyone can attend, dog or no dog, and the church will also be collecting for leading charity All Dogs Matter.

Andy, who has his own “beloved” dog named Rumi, said he is looking forward to hosting the unusual congregation, adding: “The chaos and confusion are part of the point. Why should church gatherings always have to be po-faced and heavily regulated? Let’s embrace the unpredictability and enjoy the occasion for all it’s worth!”

New Unity members do not subscribe to the idea a supernatural deity, as Andy explains: “Instead of supernatural beliefs, we explore what it means to be a good person, taking our inspiration from literature, art, and the world around us. We have a Sunday gathering, and other activities continue throughout the week, from discussion groups and meditation to pastoral care and social justice work in the local community.”