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Last Updated: Friday, 29 April, 2005, 12:36 GMT 13:36 UK
Pets service inspired by TV vicar
The Vicar of Dibley and a pig inside the church
A Dibley villager taking his pet pig to the vicar's service
A mid Wales vicar will be preaching to a different kind of flock on Sunday when his church holds a special service for pets.

Canon Roger Bird has invited his congregation to bring animals to St Aelhaiarn's in Guilsfield, Powys, after a young member suggested the idea.

Bryony Milliken, 13, was inspired by a similar service held on TV sitcom The Vicar of Dibley.

She will be taking her pet calf Beano and said: "I thought it would be fun."

The Vicar of Dibley, played by Dawn French, is drafted in to stir up the congregation and attract more worshippers after the death of her elderly predecessor.

I've asked people to bring a shovel with them, just in case
Canon Roger Bird

Mr Bird said holding an service for pets was appropriate as this Sunday is a Rogation Day.

In the Christian calendar, it is a time when congregations honour God for creation and ask for crops, cattle and sheep to be blessed.

"We live in a rural area and we've been trying to reconnect with young people," said Mr Bird.

"It's not a new idea by any stretch of the imagination - we held a pet service here when I came to Guilsfield in 1993 which was quite successful.

"But it's an opportunity for people to reconnect with their roots in a rural parish and another idea to show that worship can be fun."

The vicar has contacted young farmers and Girl Guides groups, as well as primary schools and is expecting animals in all shapes and sizes, although Beano will be staying in the porch.

"I've sent two notices out saying beware of pit bulls with a headache or if they happen to bring their elephant, can they leave it outside," said Mr Bird.

"I've asked people to bring a shovel with them, just in case!"

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