Paws in the Pews

When Pastor David Fox stands in the pulpit at St. Nicholas Park Christian Church each Sunday, he might be preaching to one of the most rarified groups of congregants to walk through his doors: dogs! Some pups never make a sound, but others might be heard howling in the aisles. That’s to be expected, though, when you put paws in the pews.

And it’s not an alternative service or a special liturgical event. Nope. This is the norm. At SNPCC, canines are welcome parishioners at Sunday morning service, where barking and sudden bouts of scratching may accompany praise. Pastor David fully understands if some of the pious pooches need to step outside now and again.

The idea behind the service, which launched several weeks ago, is to give animals and their human companions a chance to share an almighty experience. Some folks don’t like leaving their pets at home alone, especially dogs, so this provides a warm and welcoming place to worship together.

Pastor David’s canine companion, Monk, explains.

Meet the Pastoral Leader of the Pack

Davi: What inspired your father to offer a dog-friendly church service?

Monk: When Pastor David and I would visit dog parks, we noticed that most everyone loved their dogs so much, so we thought it would be a good idea to worship our Creator together.

How many dogs usually attend the service?
We usually have six dogs, small to super-size.

How long does your worship service last?
The service usually runs around 20 minutes, because our masters have short attention spans.

Is there a Meet & Greet at the beginning of worship?
Sunday morning service starts at 9 a.m. on the nose, but if you arrive early, they have coffee for humans and plenty of cold water for dogs.

Do you aim to include dogs with all sorts of perspectives and from all walks of life?
All dogs are indeed welcome to join in this great and glorious adventure.

Are dogs given a special blessing?
Yes. Dogs who are visiting for the first time receive a special blessing at the beginning of the service.

What church etiquette rules should every dog follow?
Following proper rules of etiquette is like following your nose. It goes without saying that you must stay leashed and be current on all your vaccines. You should always have a positive attitude—it changes everything. And don’t worry about barking—humans understand.

Can cats join the congregation?
We haven’t had any feline friends join our fellowship yet, but the best plan might be to bring them in an open-air cat carrier.

What lesson can a canine and his human learn from your service?Worship is better together. It helps strengthen the human-canine companionship.
It’s important for a church to recognize the deep connection between people and their pets if they want to minister to the whole person and to everything that makes that person whole. Pastor Fox hopes the service will reinvigorate the church’s connection with the community, provide comfort to elderly members, and possibly attract new worshippers who are as committed to God as they are to their four-legged friends.


Learn more about St. Nicholas Park Christian Church at

Davi the dachshund thinks a canine choir is the next logical step.