By Jessica Brodie
COLUMBIA—One Midlands church is responding with love and deep prayer after a pit bull puppy was set on fire and killed in its parking lot Nov. 12.
Grace United Methodist Church, on Harbison Blvd. in Columbia, held a Blessing of the Pets and Prayer Service outside the church Nov. 19, one week after the incident. Community and church members brought their pets, a picture or other article associated with their pet to be blessed and participate in a service of hope and healing. A love offering received at the service will be given to a local pet shelter.
“We feel like the community has been violated, as well as the sanctity of the church property,” said Grace’s pastor, the Rev. Murray Snow. “We consider it holy ground, and God’s covenant is with all God’s creatures. Many area residents use the public space to walk and exercise their pets on a daily basis.
“We want God’s love and grace to be reflected by the actions of the Harbison community coming together.”
Snow and his congregation heard about the puppy’s killing just before Sunday worship Nov. 13.
“We’re still processing it,” Snow said. “Everybody is appalled.”
He said the killing is especially hurtful because the theme of Grace’s vacation Bible school this summer was “Pets Unleashed.” Their Facebook page shares pictures of the animal-oriented event, which featured a different pet emphasis every evening and raised funds for a local shelter.
“Our prayers definitely go out to the individual that committed this horrendous act, as well,” Snow said. “No one is beyond God’s grace and God’s redeeming.”
The Richland County Sheriff’s Department has arrested a man in connection with the killing. Hykeem Dontavious Jabar Golson, 21, has been charged with felony ill treatment of animals. He is not a member of the church.