Week #22. Meet Pam Illick. She is the solo pastor at Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church in Rouzerville, Pennsylvania. With an average worship attendance of 38 people on a given Sunday, Trinity is a church in redevelopment.
Trinity is nestled in a small village of 900 near Gettysburg, PA. Nestled is a good word to describe its location as it on a road hardly traveled in a small neighborhood. One day, Illick spruced up the outside the church with some potted plants. This caught the attention of a neighbor walking by who said, “I have never seen a human being here before!”
That raised the question of “How do we as a congregation become visible in the community?” Trinity is a congregation who is willing to think outside of the box and try new things. In 2016, they decided to do a Pets & Blessings on the first Sunday in October.
The decision was made to not hold the event at the church. But instead to use the pavilions, stage and train at the local Red Run Park. Word got out about the event, which resulted in free advertisement in the local paper. Facebook also created a buzz.
With a grant from Thrivent, Trinity purchased red carpenter aprons with the church name on the front. They wanted it to be easy for the 200 participants and vendors to find help, if needed and to know the name of the church. Interesting to note, Trinity only had at that time about 30 active members but they had nearly 40 people volunteer to help for Pets & Blessing.
The vendors who participated brought much energy to Pets & Blessings. The Humane Society brought animals up for adoption so that people could meet them. A congregant from Trinity shared his knowledge in raising and showing chickens. The Brownie Girl Scout troop provided animal related crafts for kids. There were dog and cat contests, demonstrations by the K-9 Training Facility and even a photo op for the pet with Saint Francis of Assisi.
Don’t forget the food! The ice cream truck was a hit. In all, 37 dogs, 7 cats, 3 exotic birds, 20 chickens, the animals from the humane society, and all the critters in the park were blessed.
This year’s planning is well-underway with the event on October 1 from 2-5 pm. With the evite on Facebook, many people hope to return. One person wrote that she will be there if her pet doesn’t pass away. In response to that, Trinity has added a Pet Memorial Service to remember lost loved pets.
Why does this Pets & Blessings matter? It matters because what is said in Isaiah 43:19 – See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? Trinity has caught on that God does new and amazing things every day. It’s their new motto! But when we share what God is up to, the new growth becomes visible. And that’s exciting.
For more information on this story, please contact Pam Illick at firstname.lastname@example.org.