Episcopal church in Gallipolis reaches out to community, pets

By Dean Wright - deanwright@civitasmedia.com

The Rev. Leslie Flemming blesses a dog brought to her in an annual animal blessing in honor of St. Francis of Assisi

Photo courtesy of AJ Stack

GALLIPOLIS — St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Gallipolis is looking to engage the community in an annual community pet blessing and a monthly diaper collection it gives to those suffering difficulties in Gallia County.

According to St. Peter’s Episcopal Church Rev. Leslie Flemming, the animal blessing will be 2 p.m. Oct. 4 at the church.

“We do it in honor of St. Francis of Assisi,” Flemming said. “St. Francis is a 12th century saint. He founded the Franciscan Order. Among other things, he was particularly in touch with animals. He blessed them and he related to them. The Franciscans, of course, do lots of other things. In honor of St. Francis and his love of animals, Episcopalians usually have a formal blessing of animals on a day very close to St. Francis Day, which this year happens to be Oct. 4.”

Flemming said the blessing had been done for at least 10 years. She said it would have been the eighth time she had blessed animals in honor of the saint. She invited community members to bring their animals to take part in the blessing.

She said she had experience blessing birds, ferrets and some other odd animals, but mostly dogs and cats.

Roughly five years ago, the Episcopalian church started a diaper drive in assistance with the Lutheran Social Services of Central Ohio Mobile Food Pantry. The Columbus-based organization sends a mobile van stocked with food to Gallia County twice a month. The first Tuesday it stops at New Life Lutheran Church. The third Tuesday it stops at Grace United Methodist Church.

“They distribute food. People have to register in advance,” Flemming said. “They have to tell the size of their family. Boxes are set up in terms of different commodities. Boxes of cereal would be separated from cans of soup.”

“It’s what’s called a choice pantry,” St. Peter’s Episcopal Deacon A.J. Stack said. “When you register and come through to where the food is, depending on the size of your family, you’ll get a card that says how much of each item you can pick. Then you can pick what you want. It gives a bit more dignity because you’re able to choose what your family will like.”

According to gathered information, the pantry typically opens near noon.

“We intuited that one of the things people don’t seem to get at food pantries are disposable diapers,” Flemming said. “We had heard of another Episcopal church that was giving away diapers and at that time (church members) felt that this would be a really good thing to do. So, we have a table at the food pantry giveaway and we bring over diapers. We give them away according to how many infants or children they need diapers for.”

The church representatives said each pack typically contains around 40 to 45 diapers. Sizes were offered for infants as well as “pull-ups” for potty training children. According to the deacon, he also said adult diapers were offered for individuals that may need nighttime protection or are suffering medical issues.

Flemming said the ministry had given away more than 2,000 diapers per month. She said that was roughly equated to helping more than 50 people a month. The previous giveaway had taken the church’s entire diaper stock and demands for those asking for help could not be met.

Stack credited church deacon Carolyn Cogar and church member Nancy Evans with helping make the ministry a success.

Flemming said the ministry was supported by a small grant by the Episcopalian Diocese of Southern Ohio through a fund provided by the Episcopal Community Services Foundation to the Gallipolis church for the diaper ministry. The rest of the ministry’s funding is supported by parishioners.

For those wishing to donate or assist with the ministry, they can visit www.st-peters-gallipolis.diosohio.org or call the church at (740) 446-2483.

Dean Wright can be reached at (740) 46-2342, Ext. 2103.

The Rev. Leslie Flemming blesses a dog brought to her in an annual animal blessing in honor of St. Francis of Assisi
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/42/2015/09/web1_1385080_598864710160477_137303744_n.jpgThe Rev. Leslie Flemming blesses a dog brought to her in an annual animal blessing in honor of St. Francis of Assisi Photo courtesy of AJ Stack

By Dean Wright