Ed the Rev uses power of the dog collar to pack the aisles
Most church services average one dog collar per congregation but in a pooch-friendly parish in Cornwall this statistic is set to be turned on its head.
It can be a dog's life for a vicar as numbers attending services are falling nationally and the priest of St Columb Major, near Newquay, has been chasing his tail to find more ways to get people into church.
Now the Reverend Canon Edward Pruen has come up with an idea to get more paws on pews – in the hope that by taking a bite of the dog market, their owners will follow.
Canon Pruen – edtherev to his Twitter followers – is inviting pooches from the parish to bring their owners to a special meet and greet this month, which he is calling Woof and Worship.
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The canine companions will be able to tuck into Bonios, while coffee will be served for the humans. Guests will be able to mingle, watch comical dog-orientated videos and listen to a talk by St Columb's RSPCA centre.
It is hoped it will prove that churches can be "fun" and encourage more people to attend on a regular basis.
Canon Pruen, priest-in-charge of the Lanherne Cluster, said he and his wife, Margaret, 54, decided it would be a good idea in a "mad moment".
"I am sure it is a huge mistake and I am also sure we won't be able to hear very much," he said.
"Hopefully owners will bring a pooper scooper.
"So many people in St Columb Major have dogs, so we thought we would get the dogs to bring their owners to church – so I am not the only one with a dog collar."
He said people tended to talk to each other more when they are walking a dog than when they're alone. "It is nice for more people to come to church and it is sometimes easier to talk with a dog.
"I just think we should have fun in church. The main thing is that the church belongs to the community.
"It is for the community to feel they can come together in their church with the ones they love."
He said everyone was welcome to attend the event, at St Columb Major Parish Church on Sunday, February 24, at 3pm.
Deputy manager at St Columb's RSPCA Johnathan Hogan will give advice at the event and talk about what the centre does.