Ruff sketch: New Unity’s rework of Michelangelo’s masterpiece Creation of Adam.

A non-religious church in Stoke Newington has given paws for thought after it announcing it will host a special Sunday service this month – for dogs.

New Unity’s atheist minister Rev Andy Pakula said the event, called ‘Believe in Dog’, is an opportunity to celebrate our canine companions.

He said we can learn a lot from dogs: “For a start, there’s unconditional love. And there’s being in the moment. Eagerness. Loyalty. All great qualities that we can learn from.

“That’s why we’re hosting a special gathering for dogs and the people who love them.”

The 20 January service will include short readings, some “doggy-related singing”, and a chance to share stories and memories about current and former pets.

Anyone can attend, dog or no dog, and the church will also be collecting for leading charity All Dogs Matter.

Andy, who has his own “beloved” dog named Rumi, said he is looking forward to hosting the unusual congregation, adding: “The chaos and confusion are part of the point.

“Why should church gatherings always have to be po-faced and heavily regulated? Let’s embrace the unpredictability and enjoy the occasion for all it’s worth!”

Puppy master: Rev Andy Pakula says we can learn from dogs. Photograph: New Unity

New Unity members do not subscribe to the idea a supernatural deity, as Andy explains: “Instead of supernatural beliefs, we explore what it means to be a good person, taking our inspiration from literature, art, and the world around us.

“We have a Sunday gathering, and other activities continue throughout the week, from discussion groups and meditation to pastoral care and social justice work in the local community.”

The church recently launched its Changemakers’ Hub, where entrepreneurs with ambitions for greater justice in the world can connect and share ideas.

Believe in Dog takes place from 2-4pm on Saturday 20 January at New Unity, 39a Newington Green, N16 9PR.

To find out more about the church and other upcoming events, please visit www.new-unity.org

Support us


The coronavirus outbreak has meant that the Hackney Citizen has been unable to print a monthly newspaper for the last three months.

The need for quality news and reliable reporting is crucial - however, this is an increasingly challenging time for local journalism.

Our main source of income, print advertising revenue, fell suddenly - and so we are asking you, the readers, for your help.A one-off donation from anyone who can afford it will help our small team get our newspaper back in print and keep the website and social media feeds running through this unprecedented crisis.

Find out how you can donate.

Thanks in advance for your support, and stay safe.