Every church has its quirks. The formerly-known-as-Episcopal parish we've attended for the last six years is no exception.
For instance, each fall we honor St. Francis of Assisi by holding an Animal Blessing service in the courtyard of the church. Pet owners bring their many dogs, the bravest of cats, the occasional reptile, and, yes, even horses to the afternoon service to have the priest say prayers and sprinkle holy water over the beloved animals.
Used to be, members of the parish would host a barbecue after the service. A barbecue of cooked animal flesh. Until our best friends gave up animal products completely a few years ago, and our small group decided to take over the barbecue and convert it. Save its soul, so to speak.
The Animal Blessing Barbecue went vegan.
We barbecue vegan brats and hot dogs, make German potato salad, and make sure the condiments are animal-friendly, too. Donations for the dinner go to the local animal shelter and Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. It's pretty cool.
Unless, of course, half the people go home without eating because they don't think they like vegetarian food.
You know what I think of that? You guessed it. It smells a little like the natural incense the horse above left on the sidewalk for the ceremony.