THE theme of the special benefice service at Ropley Parish Hall last Sunday was ‘All Creatures Great and Small’ - and owners responded by bringing a variety of pets to be blessed.

The congregation included dogs of every shape and size, gerbils Fudge and Pepper, two rescue rabbits, a stick insect and numerous photographs of pets, both past and present.

Welcoming everyone, Reverend Clare Welham said how delighted she was to see so many people coming from the benefice of Bishop’s Sutton, Ropley and West Tisted worshipping together at this amazing service.

She also made a point of welcoming the visiting animals and gave everyone an opportunity to wander round and talk to the pets and owners.

At the end of the service she made a point on of saying “How beautifully behaved all the pets had been and not a puddle in sight.”

The congregation joined in the three hymns, and, appropriately in a service celebrating pets, three children, Isobel Jordan, Tom Sandell and Darcie Wynne, told the story of St Francis of Assisi that had been specially created for the occasion and a new version of Psalm 148 was read by Caitlin Knight and Tom Sandell.

The prayers, which had been written by one of the churchwardens, Sarah Earthy, were read by Sarah and her daughter Hazel.

The service, which everyone agreed should be held again next year, concluded with coffee and, as a very special added bonus, the biscuits were in the shape of domestic animals beautifully made and decorated by Millie Richards, a teacher at Ropley Primary School.

“In recognition of the message that we are told to look after God’s wonderful world and all His creatures a donation will be sent to Hart Wildlife Rescue,” said Rev Welham.

The Ropley congregation will be celebrating All Age Harvest Celebration and community lunch next Sunday, October 14, at 11am.