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All Creatures Great and Small Visit Croton Falls Chapel

CROTON FALLS, N.Y. – Sunday’s theme for The Chapel at Croton Falls ’ monthly interfaith service was “All Creatures Great and Small,” and it was indeed attended by creatures great and small, including dogs, cats, fish and two chinchillas. Forty-five humans were also on hand.

Representatives of multiple religions, including Rabbi Susan Mitrani-Knapp, the Rev. Gary Deinstadt, Buddhists Kari Mac and Tim Ouimette, the Rev. Melanie Gambino and yoga instructor Rona Levine, were on hand as well, to bless the animals and offer a few words.

The Rev. Deborah Moldow, interfaith minister at the chapel, said that the Buddhists speak of “the stillness you can learn from animals."

"Native Americans honor all aspects of creation,” Moldow said. “We need to listen to nature. Drive with your car windows open and your radio off, so you can hear the messages of nature.”

Professional dog trainer and author Sarah Hodgson said, “Animals convey contentment, excitement and distress. Every person’s choice is to stop, listen and respond or not. All animals long for a godly presence in their lives. We become that presence.”

Katherine Vockins, wife of the chapel’s minister, the Rev. Hans Hallundbaek, explained, “On Oct. 16, 2005, my husband was called to the service of the church. On the same day we heard about a dog who was rescued from Katrina. He was tied to the body of his drowned guardian. The dog’s name was Faithful.”

Faithful, now shortened to Faith, is a gentle pit bull and now a part of The Chapel at Croton Falls congregation. “The church is open to all faiths and all species,” Vockins said. “There is no separation between us.”

After the service Gambino explained, “My job is to come in at the end and weave things together. This is about oneness. All religions come out of love. I feel blessed by the animals. Our privilege is to be able to return the favor.”

The theme of next month’s interfaith service at The Chapel at Croton Falls is “A Symphony of Peace Prayers.” The service starts at 10:30 a.m. May 20. The chapel is at 609 Route 22, Croton Falls.

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