The photo that I’m holding is of a ceremony I participated in known as the Great Blessing of Water, performed in Alaska in solidarity with the Yup'ik Eskimo and Tanaina Athabaskan Indian communities, who are deeply concerned about the ecological damage posed by the Pebble (copper and gold) Mine. As stewards of what God has given to us, it is our job to nurture and protect the great beauty of this world.
By invoking God's blessing upon our own rivers, lakes and seas, we reaffirm the essential holiness of all that God has made and blessed and given to us as His stewards—not to
Alaska Natives, both Yup'ik Eskimo and Tanaina Athabaskan Indian communities, are gravely concerned about the potential and probable ecological damage posed by the proposed Pebble (gold and copper) Mine in the state.
To highlight the Orthodox Church's solidarity with these villages, where the vast majority are Orthodox Christians, the bishop and a delegation of clergy (including myself) visited this region, performing the rite of the Great Blessing of Water, celebrated every year in all Orthodox parishes in commemoration of the Baptism of Jesus Christ in the Jordan on the "12th Day of Christmas". This rite affirms the inherent goodness and sacredness of the created world as God blessed it in the beginning, a blessing that is renewed when Jesus comes to the river, the voice of the Father speaks and the Holy Spirit appears as a Dove.
By invoking God's blessing upon our own rivers, lakes and seas, we reaffirm the essential holiness of all that God has made and blessed and given to us as His stewards—not to abuse, poison or destroy the world but to nurture and protect it as a sacred duty.