The Practice of Ministry – Avoiding a Certain Embarrassment

As responsible Colleagues of Dogs in Ministry, we never go anywhere without a small supply of black plastic bags with us. (If you don’t know why that is the case, what on earth are you doing in Dogs in Ministry? Just ask a friend and they will explain!) (I do recognise that some individuals prefer green bags to black bags – to me that is an Ecumenical matter.)

Particularly to aid the Colleagues of Ordinands, Mutts in Training and Newly Accredited Mutts, I have compliled a list of places where we should absolutely never carry these bags. From 32 years of experience sharing ministry with dogs, so far I recall:

  1. In the same pocket of your jacket/suit or in some cases in the same bag as your sermon notes during (in order of increasing seriousness) (a) a church midweek service (b) a church Sunday service (c) a church Easter or Christmas service (d) a funeral (e) a wedding (f) as you go into the water to administer believer’s baptism (g) conducting a school assembly (primary or secondary are equally awkward but for different reasons) (h) when saying Grace at the Civic Dinner in the presence of the Mayor, the Lord Lieutenant and the Bishop (i) any of the above when they include celebrating Communion (j) any of the aforementioned in presence of Royalty
  2. In the same pocket or bag as your personal handkerchief. Never. Yuk!!!
  3. In the same pocket or bag as your prayer book when making a hospital visit (increasing in seriousness depending on the severity of the illness)
  4. In the same pocket or bag that you keep your brand new handkerchief ready to give to a lady who is in distress.
  5. In the same pocket as your keys. (The reason here being that sharp objects make holes in thin plastic and you really wouldn’t want that, Ever. Trust me.)
  1. In the same pocket as you keep the notepad you use for writing down customers’ orders when serving tables at Cafe.
  2. In any pocket or bag when at Toddler Group or Pre-School or making a pastoral visit to any family with small children, who seem to think it an amusing game to find out what strangers carry in their pockets or bags, which behaviour the parents seem to encourage.
  3. In the same pocket as your plectrum or capo while you are playing the guitar in any setting but particularly see 1 and 7 above.
  4. In a gentleman’s shirt top pocket. Have you seen what that looks like !!!
  5. In the rear pocket of trousers/jeans (for gentlemen or ladies). For reasoning, see 9.
  6. Just stuffed loosely inside any garments. Particularly not swimwear. And especially never under-garments. (No I don’t!! But I have seen people who do!!!)
  7. In the same pocket as mints, chocolates or any other snacks.
  8. Gentlemen, in the same pocket where you are carrying the ring (inside or worse, outside of the box) with which you intend to propose to your beloved.

Any suggestions of additions to this list will be included in a future addtion of FURRED WAY, ideally evidenced by an account of the unfortunate occasion, the more embarrassing the better. Especially with pictures!


Literary Editor of FURRED WAY - Poppy and her daughters Sophie and Willow are the founders of Dogs in Ministry

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