Animal Ministries Corner

posted Oct 31, 2017, 9:15 PM by Cheryl Hentz   [ updated Sep 6, 2018, 1:58 PM ]
This monthly feature from the FCC Animal Ministries Group is intended to demonstrate the importance of animals and how to better care for them as the stewards we’ve been appointed to be.

FCC Animal Ministries Group Again Sponsoring Giving Tree for Local Animals in Need

The Animal Ministries group of First Congregational Church is asking all FCC members to help animals in the coming weeks.

Four years ago, the group started a Fill the Bowl campaign as part of our St. Francis of Assisi events every October. Fill the Bowl is a project created by the Humane Society of the United States to help provide animal shelters and rescue groups with food to help people who are having trouble feeding their pets because of their financial or life circumstances. As you may recall, FCC’s first Fill the Bowl effort was so well-received that we got national attention, which resulted in donations from people in different parts of the country who read about what we were doing here at FCC and wanted to help.

Last year we changed things up a bit by sponsoring a Giving Tree for the local shelter. FCC members helped make that such a success that we are doing it again this year. We have gathered a list of things the Oshkosh Area Humane Society needs and written those items on cute animal-related handmade “ornaments.” The Giving Tree will be set up outside of the Sanctuary in the Narthex. Throughout the month of September, you’re invited to pick an ornament off the tree and buy whatever gift is noted on that ornament. There will be a Fill the Bowl receptacle near the tree in which to put your gift. The Fill the Bowl Giving Tree event will culminate during St. Francis weekend, October 6-7 with the annual Blessing of the Animals service on Saturday, Oct. 6. All the Giving Tree donations collected throughout September and the first week in October will be taken to the Oshkosh Area Humane Society after that weekend.

Of course, financial contributions are always welcome. So, if you are so inclined, you may write out a check to the OAHS and put it in an envelope for us to give to the shelter. Or, if you have children who participate in the children’s time during Sunday worship they can always put the donation in the dog-house “bank” up near the altar. 

Either way, your help is needed. The local animal shelter goes through more than 1,000 pounds of food each month – whether to feed to the animals they’re adopting out, or to give to people so they can continue feeding their pets as opposed to having to surrender them during tough financial times. Won’t you please help us help them? Watch for the Fill the Bowl Giving Tree, and your opportunity to help. We thank you, the shelter staff thanks you and, above all, the animals we all so deeply want to help thank you!

Did you know that...?

In this month’s Animal Ministries Corner we thought you might enjoy reading some fun, possibly never-before-heard-of facts about animals. For example, did you know that…

Dogs’ nose prints are as unique as human fingerprints, and can be used to identify them?

Dogs' sense of smell is about 100,000 times stronger than humans', but they have just one-sixth our number of taste buds?

Animals with smaller bodies and faster metabolism see in slow motion?

Warmer weather causes more turtles to be born female than male?

A single strand of spider silk is thinner than a human hair, but also five times stronger than steel of the same width. A rope just 2-inches thick could reportedly stop a Boeing 747?

By eating pest insects, bats save the U.S. agriculture industry an estimated $3 billion per year?

African buffalo herds display voting behavior, in which individuals register their travel preference by standing up, looking in one direction and then lying back down? Only adult females can vote.

For every human in the world there are one million ants?

Cows can sleep standing up, but they can only dream laying down?

The sentence “The quick brown fox jumps over a lazy dog” uses every letter in the alphabet?

On a 95-degree day, hugging a tree in the shade could help a 25-pound koala lose up to 68 percent of its extra body heat?

First Congregational Church's Animal Ministries Group hosts its 4th annual Pet Memorial Service

It’s common to have a memorial service to celebrate the life of a loved one who has died. It helps us grieve the death of a loved one and provide an opportunity to start coping with the loss, so we can move toward healing. The same is true in the case of a beloved pet who has passed away.

The Animal Ministries Group at First Congregational Church invites you to our 4th annual Pet Remembrance Service. During this special interfaith service we’ll share memories, we’ll laugh, we’ll cry; but most importantly, we’ll acknowledge our loss and pay tribute to these cherished members of our families. If you – or someone you know – has recently lost a pet, or simply would like to honor a pet (or pets) who has passed some time ago, please join or invite them to join us.

This Pet Remembrance Service is from 10 to 11 am on Saturday, June 23 in the FCC Sanctuary. If you wish, you may bring a picture or favorite item of your beloved departed pet(s) to share with us as you say a few words about those you have lost. Those attending will get a memento to take with them as a remembrance of the service.

After the service we invite you to join us for refreshments in the church Lounge, so we can continue to share special memories about our pets.

This event is free and open to the public however, a freewill donation will be taken. 


Animal Ministries Group Members Volunteer on Menominee Reservation 

Three of our members and Confirmation student Anna Wagner (who has plans to become a veterinarian later in life) spent the day on Saturday, Oct. 28 at the Menominee Reservation in Keshena assisting the Keshena Animal Help and Rescue organization with its semi-annual low-to-no-cost clinic. Volunteers assist by sitting with animals as they are coming out of anesthesia following spay or neuter surgery; still others assist with getting dogs licensed, deworming dogs, trimming toenails, microchipping dogs, testing for heartworm and Lyme disease, etc. Veterinarians and vet techs from various counties volunteer their time to do the surgeries and give injections such as rabies, etc. This is an event some of the group’s members have been helping with for at least the last three years and find it to be a completely rewarding experience helping people get the proper veterinary care for their pets when they might not otherwise be able to afford it. 

If anyone wishes to learn more about this event or Camp HOPE, visit their websites at and Many pictures from the Keshena event are already posted on their website. If you’re interested in volunteering with either organization, contact Cheryl at (920) 426-4123, who can put you in touch with the right people. And if you’re interested in joining the Animal Ministries group, Cheryl can help you with that also.

The Magic of Camp Hope 

The members of our Animal Ministries group are involved in many different interests that involve animals. One of our members, Kathy Lugwig, and her dog, Lilly, are very involved with Camp HOPE. For anyone who's not sure what Camp HOPE is, here is a wonderful story that cuts to the heart of what it is and how people and their pets can make a difference for others:

Camp HOPE is a weekend camp for grieving children and their families held in central Wisconsin at the Wisconsin Lions Camp three times each year.  When I first started Camp 29 years ago, I used to bring my Golden Retriever, Red, along and watched him do his therapy work with the campers all weekend long.  He was not a registered therapy dog, just a good boy who loved everyone.  He would sleep for days after each Camp because he gave his all to the children and teens: one dog for 50 campers.  Shortly after he was too old to come anymore, Molly from Compassionate Canines approached me about bringing her therapy dog to Camp.  I didn’t even realize there was such an organization so I was thrilled to welcome this team.  Molly passed the word to other therapy dog teams about Camp HOPE and we are fortunate to have many therapy teams come to each Camp weekend.

Our campers come from all over the state and outside of Wisconsin as well, and they come with all different stories of grief.  One camper, with the help of Kathy Ludwig and Lilly, her little Westie, became the poster child for the success story of a grieving child and a therapy dog.

With a week before camp to go, a mom called me hoping to still register her and her children for the weekend.   She was sorry she was so late, but she lost track of the days and weeks since her husband had killed himself.  She completed the necessary forms and as I read through them, I realized we had a problem.  Her youngest child wasn’t told the truth of the death.  Many people believe that the youngest of our children are too tender, too fragile to be told of a suicide.  What I’ve learned over the many years of running Camp HOPE is that telling our children the truth is best.   If a person can’t share this truth with the child alone, there are many professionals out there able to assist.

So I explained to this mom that part of our philosophy at Camp is honesty, with no room for guilt or shame.  Our campers walk into Camp to see a huge, framed board with all of the staff names and all of their names, the person they love who has died and the cause of death.  Our campers that come with the story of a parent dying by suicide are held with the same respect  and non judgment as our campers whose parents die from cancer or a car accident or a drowning.  I needed this young girl to know what really happened with her father before she came so we could begin our healing on the right foot.  Mom said, okay, she would try.  The night before they came to Camp, the truth was shared.  And this little girl was angry.

When they walked into registration, I knew who she was immediately.  I’ve seen lots of angry campers, not wanting to be at a grief camp.  But this girl, she was on fire.  Hitting her mom while at the same time holding onto her sleeve, she was red faced and wouldn’t make eye contact with anyone.  She would get teary, and then rub the tears from her cheeks until it hurt.  The counselors did their best to welcome her and warm her up, but she was absolutely not having it.  Then, Lilly arrived. 

The little Westie, with her soft, brown eyes, reached this young girl in a moment, the first eye to eye contact she made since arriving.  Kathy and I watched as she began to pet Lilly, then hug her and then move away from her mom.  I listened as she spoke with Kathy, whispering that she was going to be a vet.   I looked over to check on Mom and saw her watching and crying, but smiling.  Lilly, that little miracle worker, saved this child.  I’m not saying that in a romantic way.  I believe without Lilly pried open this shut down child, like none of us humans could have done.  With her initial work done, Lilly moved onto other campers and allowed the counselors to surround the little girl and pull her into their circle of other grieving children.  Lilly didn’t stray far though.  Over the weekend, I saw countless moments between this child and this dog. 

I have stayed in touch with this family and am pleased to announce this child is doing very well, and now has a beautiful dog of her own.  Thank you Kathy and Lilly, for changing this young person’s life.

Becky Loy, Founder and President, Camp HOPE

11 Facts About Factory Farms and the Environment

There’s no question that factory farming has a negative effect on our environment. Check out these facts from

1.       About 10 billion land animals in the United States are raised for dairy, meat, and eggs each year.

2.       Factory farming accounts for 37% of methane (CH4) emissions, which has more than 20 times the global warming potential of CO2.

3.       Manure can also contain traces of salt and heavy metals, which can end up in bodies of water and accumulate in the sediment, concentrating as they move up the food chain.

4.       When manure is repeatedly over-applied to farm land it causes dangerous levels of phosphorus and nitrogen in the water supply. In such excessive amounts, nitrogen robs water of oxygen and destroys aquatic life.

5.       Burning fossil fuels to produce fertilizers for animal feed crops may emit 41 million metric tons of CO2 per year.

6.       Globally, deforestation for animal grazing and feed crops is estimated to emit 2.4 billion tons of CO2 every year.

7.       Corn, wheat, and rice, the fast-growing crops on which humanity depends for survival, are among the most nitrogen-hungry of all plants.

8.       Large-scale animal factories often give animals antibiotics to promote growth, or to compensate for illness resulting from crowded conditions. These antibiotics enter the environment and the food chain.

9.       Factory farms contribute to air pollution by releasing compounds such as hydrogen sulfide, ammonia, and methane.

10.   The US Department of Agriculture estimates that confined farm animals generate more than 450 million tons of manure annually, three times more raw waste than generated by Americans.

11.   The waste lagoons on Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) not only pollute our groundwater but deplete it as well. Many of the farms use the groundwater for cleaning, cooling, and drinking.

If interested in finding ways to help the environment, either as a group, or on your own, please visit

Season of Lent

The 2018 season of Lent officially kicked off on Feb. 14 and it will run until March 31. During this time many people give up certain things; it might be candy or other sweets; or, it might be all foods deemed bad for us by the various dieticians in the world. Still others, make a promise to give up certain behaviors during this time. It’s sort of like a second chance to make good on those New Year’s Resolutions that have since fallen by the wayside. Whatever it is, most people who honor Lent, do so by making a promise to give up something for the Lenten season. But it doesn’t have to be about giving up something.

Have you thought about adding something to your life during this Lenten process?  Whether that’s food on your plate or activities in your schedule, there are many ways we can follow the footsteps of Jesus and model servitude during this holy time. You might consider volunteering at a local animal sanctuary or shelter, leading a Bible study on creation care, or hosting a plant-based fellowship meal. Perhaps you’d rather read a book or watch a video on how to live your life more humanely. Those celebrating the Lenten season of reflection and prayer are also encouraged to join others at CreatureKind for a weekly online Lenten devotional as we consider what we believe about God’s creatures and how we might move toward living out those beliefs as members of the body of Christ.

Need other ideas? The faith outreach section of the Humane Society of the United States website has a variety of ideas and surely has something there that will pique your interest. Who knows? It may change the way you live your life year-round, not just during Lent. Here is the link to point you in the right direction to HSUS’ Faith Outreach:  


Helping Make a Difference for Animals

This monthly feature is intended to demonstrate the importance of animals and how to better care for them as the stewards we’ve been appointed to be. 

As we read newspaper and magazine articles, or hear/see stories on local radio, TV and social media outlets, it’s clear that now, more than ever, animals need our help! And it’s not just homeless animals in our local shelters and rescue groups. They certainly need help, yes. But there are wild animals in all corners of the world whose habitats, and lives, are endangered; puppy mill animals are crowded into small, confining cages, forced to breed over and over again, with their feet never touching the ground, in many cases; farm animals in factory-farm settings are also victims of overcrowding, as well as abuse; wild horses being chased by helicopters and rounded up at the instruction of our own governmental agencies; animals being abused in bullfights, greased pig wrestling, turkey tosses, etc., all in the name of sport; and the list goes on and on.

There are many things we can do. Volunteering to an animal right’s cause is a wonderful way to help make a difference. But, believe it or not, one of the greatest things you can do is to learn more about the plight of animals and what they need. Animals do not have a voice—they need each and every one of us to be their voice. You can write to or call your elected officials on their behalf.  You may think your voice won’t make a difference; but it can. And surely, voices all speaking the same message can impact things greatly for animals.

Other things you can do to help include:

  • Volunteering at your local animal shelter or with a rescue group
  • Donate to an animal organization that is either rescuing animals or helping make their plight better, including protecting endangered species
  • Adopt an animal, if you can, or donate money on its behalf
  • Teach others about animal issues and animal rights that need fighting for
  • Become a vegetarian or vegan, or at a minimum, buy meat, eggs and dairy products from farms that practice “free range” techniques and treat animals humanely, even in their slaughtering practices. At the same time, you can buy organic foods and products.
  • The Humane Society of the United States has produced a list of “55 Ways to Help Animals.” Most of these are very simple; and some may be ways you never even thought of. Find the list by following this link (, or going to and searching for 55 Ways to Help Animals.

Curling Up With Jesus

Before Christmas becomes too much of a distant memory, we thought the following would be fitting for this month’s feature.

A Nativity Scene was erected in a church yard. During the night, some church members came across this scene…

An abandoned dog was looking for a comfortable, protected place to sleep. He chose baby Jesus as his comfort.  No one had the heart to send him away; so, he was there all night.

We should all have the good sense of this dog, and curl up in Jesus' lap from time to time. (By the way, the dog was a German Shepherd!)

                                - Source unknown

What is the Importance of Animals to the Environment?

Ever wonder about the importance of animals to the environment? The answers are many and could never fit into the allotted space here. 

But the short answer, according to is this:  Animals help maintain the Earth's natural environments by predating upon plants and other animals, pollinating various plants, and exhaling carbon dioxide, which green plants require to live. Additionally, animals help to fertilize plants via their droppings, which provide nutrition for plants, and seed-dispersal tendencies, which help plants to disperse through habitats. Once they die, animals also serve as food for microorganisms and supplemental minerals for plants.

The Animal Ministries Corner is a monthly feature to demonstrate the importance of animals and how to better care for them as the stewards we’ve been appointed to be. 

Keeping Our Pets Safe During the Holidays

Our four-legged pets are part of the family. So, with the holidays coming, be sure to include them in the festivities. But use common-sense and keep things as earth-friendly as possible when doing so.

Buy (or make) them a treat. Pet stores and others who sell pet food and related items will likely go all out for the holiday season, but if you’d rather make treats for your pet(s), there are plenty of great recipes online. Most will probably be designed for year-round enjoyment, but you can use cookie cutters to mold them into holiday treats. And, if they call for pumpkin or peanut butter, rest assured, those items are safe for dogs (but in moderation, of course).

Don’t leave them out of gift-opening. Everyone else will be opening gifts, so be sure to include the fur-kids. They will have a lot of fun trying to get smaller gifts out of their own personalized stockings (a gift in and of itself), or wrap up a tennis ball, bone, catnip, or some other toy and watch them tear open the paper with delight. Some pets may even get more enjoyment out of the unwrapping than they do the actual gift, but they will enjoy the gifts once the paper’s tossed out in the recycle bin.

Get them their own special ornaments. Many families have a tradition of getting a special personalized ornament each year. If this is something your family does, consider getting one for your pets, as well. You could get a special ornament for each pet (if you have more than one pet), or one for all of them, if you so choose. Such ornaments can be personalized by having their photo and or name(s) engraved on them. If you’d rather do it yourself, you can always make an ornament and if your pet cooperates, include their paw print on it before baking in an oven or kiln. (Salt dough is said to work great if making ornaments in the oven.) Either way, it’s a special way to keep holiday memories of your fur-kids alive for years to come.

Keep them warm and toasty (and safe). Your pet’s coat only keeps them so warm when the winds blow and the snow flies. Why not get them a snuggly pet bed of their own? And for those winter walks in the snow, ice and slush, you can get them a coat, or even boots to protect their feet from freezing in the ice, or getting salt on them from sidewalks (that salt can be dangerous if they lick it off; so be sure to wipe their feet when coming indoors after walks around the neighborhood.). And consider using pet-safe salt on your own sidewalks to protect your own pets and others in the neighborhood that may walk by.

Happy holidays from our group to you and yours!