Assumption Church in Michigan Hosts Bereavement Service for a K-9 Dog Killed

A police chief speaks at the Bereavement Service (Photo by Fr. Michael Varlamos)

ST. CLAIR SHORES, MI – The Assumption Greek Orthodox parish of St. Claire, MI held a Bereavement Service on November 14 for Axe, a K-9 police dog killed in the line of duty on November 4, in his attempt to take down 29-year-old Theoddeus Gray, who shot him. The killing took place outside of the Lakeland Manor Banquet Hall, where Gray’s family says he was armed because someone threatened to kill him while he was at the shower. The police killed gray at the scene.

The K-9 dog is considered an active police officer and it is identified as such. A small box with his dust along with his photograph and the American flag had been on a table on the solea of the church. More than 2000 police offices and 150 K-9 dog-officers were present at the memorial even from throughout the area, including police chiefs and sheriffs of various counties.

Protopresbyter Michael Varlamos told The National Herald that Axe was killed about three miles from the Church. “There is a banquet center and one of the people pulled out a gun and he was threatening people in the parking lot and the police were dispatched. When the person pulled the gun toward the police officer, the dog rushed toward the suspect and the suspect shot the dog dead. The dog literary took the bullet for the police officer.”

Fr. Michael Varlamos, presiding priest of the Assumption of the Theotokos Greek Orthodox church in St. Clair Shores Michigan is speaking at the Bereavement Service in honor of Police 9-K Dog officer. (Photo provided to TNH by Stavros Mitropoulos)

“The St. Claire Shores Police Department told us when a police dog dies they attribute the same honors to the police dog like a human police officer. They said the first community they thought of was the Assumption church. I said I needed more information and they told me ‘it is just an opportunity for us to assemble all the K-9 units and all the police officers from Southeast Michigan, a few from Ohio as well, so we can pay respects and bring the police community together.’ I was appreciative that they thought of our church and ours is the biggest facility that could accommodate them.

“The church was filled to capacity, the church seats 600 people, and there were people standing and in the Fellowship Hall we had about 450 and there were another 250 or more in the gymnasium and hundreds outside. We had closed-circuit TV for all to see.”

Fr. Varlamos clarified that “it wasn’t a Memorial Service; it was more of a Bereavement Service. I wasn’t wearing an epitrahilio, I didn’t say any Orthodox prayers. It was just an opportunity for the police officers. They called us and the first thing that came to my mind was when we call the police on time of need they come to us and now the police called us and they wished to grieve, the officer that was with the K-9 and all the police. I was amazed because I wasn’t expecting the turnout, police cars were from all over Metropolitan Detroit. They wanted to grieve and they know our community supported them and tried to provide an outlet for the grief to be expressed in a respectful way.”

The scene outside of the Assumption Church were thousands police offices gathered to honor the K-9 police dog. (Photo provided to TNH by Stavros Mitropoulos)

In his comments at the Service, he said “Blessed are you, O Lord, Who has created all animals great and small to serve humankind. From the time when we all lived in the Garden of Eden side-by-side until this very day, You Who Are the Source and Creator of Life, charged humanity with naming all living things and have entrusted human beings to perpetually care for all animals in their service to us. On this day, we gather in one of your many houses of worship, to memorialize, pray for, and honor one of your creations, Canine Police Officer Axe of the St. Clair Shores Police Department, who died in protecting his partner and our community in the line of duty.

“O Lord, we pray for the animals that bear with us the burden and heat of day, the dangers of night, and offer their guileless lives for the wellbeing of humanity. You have made them loyal, strong, and beautiful, and we pray for them. According to Your great tenderness of heart, O God, protect all who work daily to secure our peace, and to those fallen in this endeavor, grant them a place in Your eternal kingdom. As we gather to memorialize Axe, let us pray for him, for his partner and family, for all our police officers, and for the community for whom Axe gave his life to protect.”

The scene outside of the Assumption Church were thousands police offices gathered to honor the K-9 police dog. (Photo provided to TNH by Stavros Mitropoulos)

13 Comments

  1. Is this Priest a complete idiot or have we just gone around the corner with the Episcopal, Lutheran and Unitarian Churches!!!!!!

  2. I think you’re being too harsh usmc12. This is an opportunity to highlight our beautiful churches to the community at large, and to help be a part of a larger community. There was no prayer service in terms of a liturgical event. Don’t we host soup kitchens for the area’s poor? Don’t we take part in town festivals? I think this is more akin to such community outreach and I think this is a very positive thing that was done. Kudos to the Assumption parish!

  3. God loves all his creation. Didn’t he say not even a sparrow falls and he does not see it? This was an amazing creature who reflected the glory of creation. I celebrate the priest and community who welcomed his remains. It was not at Divine Liturgy for heaven’s sake. We need to think more like God and less like our petty judgmental selves.

  4. I have a parrot who just died. He left the church $25,000. Do you think we can have a memorial service for him too?

    How ridiculous. If his bishop allowed this, he is just as much at fault as the priest for doing such a “non-service” in the church. We’re on a dangerous downward slope by accepting such behavior. It’s inappropriate.

    1. Anonymous your kind of thinking is why the GOA is becoming a dead church in America. Instead of being joyful that over a thousand police officers and their families and loved ones were exposed, many for the first time, to an Orthodox Church, your heart is stingy and you just want to gripe. I am sure you would much rather keep your little Greem ghetto where everything is done proper and there is no growth or spread of the Message.

      1. Our church is suffering when we believe by holding such a service in the sanctuary is the way to witness Christ to the people. What should we allow next? The “celebration” of the “union” of homosexuals? Why not allow those who “self identify” as the opposite sex to receive the sacraments? We are heading down a very dangerous path with such actions as a church when we allow things like this happen in the sanctuary.
        Christ himself has told us what we should do, ” “After this the Lord appointed seventy-two a others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.

        “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you. Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.

        “When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you. Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God has come near.’ I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town. ” Luke 10:1-16.

        We must focus as well on Matthew 25:31-46 the gospel of the great judgement.

        When saint Paul went to Athens Greece, he didn’t sacrifice to idols to make the Greeks happy. He used his visit to teach the Greeks and to evangelize to them Acts 17:16-34. It’s through our witness and telling people about Christ we’ll bring people to Orthodox christianity.

        We ARE the church! Sadly, people don’t know because of faithful adherents who have been influenced by the corrupted biblical teachings of the church of Rome and Protestants thinking that this is acceptable.

        We don’t need to become like everyone else, instead, we must stay true to who we are. That is how the church grows. Hear it from their own mouths of those who became Orthodox. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o_2gI17e7A8

      2. Hear,Hear! Anonymous!
        Michael should re-take Orthodoxy 101.
        But sadly, and given the chance, our priest would probably do the same.
        For the dog, that is. (I hope, again).

  5. After reading the WHOLE article, it seems like quite an honorable event was conducted in showing the love of Christ for all and to all. This is already misrepresented in article linking to this one in saying, “the one which entered into communion with schismatics and “self-sanctifiers,” and which yesterday blasphemously held a funeral service for the cremated remains of a police dog in their Detroit, MI, church.” Reread the article. This was NOT a funeral service.

    1. Then why didn’t the priest just let the folks walk up on the ambo and say a few good words about the deceased and leave it go at that without all the ‘prayers’? ‘All Dogs Go to Heaven’? Maybe on the big screen, but that isn’t the Orthodox view. Shakespeare said, ‘What’s in a name?’ Funeral, Parastas, Wake. If prayers and a preacher are involved, it’s a service. Have you never heard,’Where two or three are gathered together…? Do you say now you do not believe that? Careful.

  6. The ” all houses of worship” thing scared me sounds syncretistic and Ecumenistic there is only one truth the Orthodox Church He had no mention of the Lord Jesus Christ and we can’t memorialize dogs and pray for their memory because they have no souls! Holy Spirit gives them life thus we do service of blessing livestock when ALIVE. I cried at the love the dog showed for his master but that is where we must categorized it personal joy and mourning not at the Orthodox Church with no mention of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the priests prayers or explanation to Police dogs have no.souls Good if he would have done Paraklesis for Police Officer Protection and Read prayer for Blessing of Livestock over the Police dogs that would have witnessed the Faith to much greater Extent! If priest stuck exclusive to Orthodox Christian Praxis and Prayers better priest was vested and Read prayer for all Police Human not Canine in attendance to be illumined to come to True Orthodox Faith for baptism and Chrismation.

  7. The ” all houses of worship” thing scared me sounds syncretistic and Ecumenistic there is only one truth the Orthodox Church He had no mention of the Lord Jesus Christ and we can’t memorialize dogs and pray for their memory because they have no souls! Holy Spirit gives them life thus we do service of blessing livestock when ALIVE. I cried at the love the dog showed for his master but that is where we must categorized it personal joy and mourning not at the Orthodox Church with no mention of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the priests prayers or explanation that Police dogs have no souls. Good if he would have done Paraklesis for Police Officer Protection and Read prayer for Blessing of Livestock over the Living Police dogs that would have witnessed the Faith to much greater Extent! If priest stuck exclusive to Orthodox Christian Praxis and Prayers and priest was vested if allowed to be when reading Paraklesis for non Orthodox and Livestock prayers owned by non Orthodox or vested for livestock prayers in general but dogs are not allowed in the Orthodox Church Priest would have to go to Police Kennel and best if Priest would Read prayer for all Police Human not Canine in attendance to be illumined to come to True Orthodox Faith for baptism and Chrismation. Not even certain casket with dead dogs remains should be allowed into Church. According to Holy Canons Church needs to be entirely blessed when dog or animal enters!

  8. The ” all houses of worship” thing scared me sounds syncretistic and Ecumenistic there is only one truth the Orthodox Church He had no mention of the Lord Jesus Christ and we can’t memorialize dogs and pray for their memory because they have no souls! Holy Spirit gives them life thus we do service of blessing livestock when ALIVE. I cried at the love the dog showed for his master but that is where we must categorized it personal joy and mourning not at the Orthodox Church with no mention of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the priests prayers or explanation that Police dogs have no souls. Good if he would have done Paraklesis for Police Officer Protection and Read prayer for Blessing of Livestock over the Living Police dogs at Kennel NOT IN CHURCH that would have witnessed the Faith to much greater Extent! If priest stuck exclusive to Orthodox Christian Praxis and Prayers and priest was vested if allowed to be when reading Paraklesis for non Orthodox and Livestock prayers owned by non Orthodox or vested for livestock prayers in general but dogs are not allowed in the Orthodox Church Priest would have to go to Police Kennel and best if Priest would Read prayer for all Police Human not Canine in attendance to be illumined to come to True Orthodox Faith for baptism and Chrismation. Not even certain casket with dead dogs remains should be allowed into Church. According to Holy Canons Church needs to be entirely blessed when dog or animal enters!

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