Believe in Dog

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Rev Andy Pakula is the atheist minister of New Unity, a non-religious church in Islington. A self-confessed dog fanatic, he believes that dogs can teach us a lot. “For a start, there’s unconditional love,” he says. “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.”

It all takes place on Saturday 20 January at an event called ‘Believe in Dog’, held at New Unity’s Meeting House on Newington Green N16. Dogs are, of course, invited.

How does Rev Andy feel about trying to run a church service where lots of dogs are gathered together? Won’t it be unpredictable, to say the least? “The chaos and confusion are part of the point,” he laughs. “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!”

So what will actually happen? “We’ll celebrate dogs we enjoy today, and dogs we remember with sorrow-tinged joy,” he explains. “We’ll have some short readings that make us smile, some doggy-related singing, and an opportunity to share what our dogs have taught us. We’ll also take a collection for alldogsmatter.co.uk.”

What if you don’t actually own a dog? “Of course we want you to join in!,” says Rev Andy. “You’re welcome at New Unity, dog or no dog!”