Mon River receives annual blessing from local Orthodox Church

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STAR CITY, W.Va. – The St. Mary’s Orthodox Church held its annual blessing of the Monongahela River on Sunday at 12:30 p.m.

The service for the Blessing of Open Waters began when the church met at the boat ramp by the Edith Barill Riverfront Park. A short prayer service started the ceremony off, which lead into hymns recalling the baptism of Jesus, scripture readings and prayers for the people of the community. The ceremony finished up with a special reading as a wooden cross descended into the river three times.

Members of the church during the prayer service (WBOY Image)

This blessing is performed each year to celebrate the Feast of Theophany. The feast remembers Jesus being baptized in the Jordan River by St. John the Baptist over 2,000 years ago. When blessing the river, the church asks God to redeem all of His creations, and to bless the community and world we are living in. While the Priest led in prayer, the congregation helped in blessing the Mon River.

The Feast of Theophany begins on Jan. 6 every year. Father Andrew Wythe told 12 News that they usually pick a Sunday after the feast has commenced to do the blessing. He also mentioned why he feels it is important to continue this tradition every year by saying, “it’s a way of participating in the stories that we read within’ the Bible. We, you know, I had a cross and I threw it out into the river and that’s symbolic of Christ being baptized in the river. So even though these events happened 2,000 years ago, we’re taking part in them, not just re-enacting them as if we were putting on a play. We’re really, it’s almost as if we’re really there.”

Upcoming events for the St. Mary’s Orthodox Church include dinners during Lent, which is a period of 40 days during which Christians remember the events leading up to and including the death of Jesus Christ. If you are interested in attending an upcoming event or a Sunday Liturgy, you can find more information here.

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