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Come to the church in the dog park

When I arrived at Central Christian Church Sunday morning, a group had already gathered outside and was singing the country hymn, “The Little Church in the Wildwood.” 

How sweet on a clear Sabbath morning                              
To listen to the clear ringing bells                       
Its tones so sweetly are calling                          
Oh come to the church in the vale
 

The last line of that verse might have been changed to read, “Oh come to the church in the dog park” as we were in Central’s Community Dog Park and the group who had gathered were dogs and their owners, Central’s senior pastor, Rev. Dr. Ken Crawford; Central Elder, Tyson Woods and guest guitarist, Jim Carvel.    

Ten years ago, the church devoted one acre of their tree-shaded grounds to a fenced-in, off-leash dog park.  With huge live oaks, the park remains rustic and natural in appearance, but it features plenty of seating, a bathing station, waste stations, electric fans to help with a breeze during the heat of summer and a statue of St. Francis of Assisi.   

Last fall, to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the dog park, Central began holding short services in the park on the first and third Sunday of the month, weather permitting.  However, weather, fluky as it has been, has not been a deterrent to the loyal visitors that frequent the park.  Throughout the winter, they have continued to gather on Sunday mornings to enjoy coffee, donuts, sing-a-longs and a short service that leaves everyone feeling closer to God and to what’s really important in our lives.  

Everyone is invited to the dog park.  You don’t have to be a member of Central, or any church for that matter, to be a part of “the little church in the dog park.”   9 a.m., casual dress and your dog!

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