POST FALLS, Idaho — About 50 people gathered on the bank of the Spokane River on Monday to pray for the waters that flow through the region.
It’s tradition in the Orthodox Church for worshipers to commemorate the day Jesus was baptized in the River Jordan — Theophany — by the Great Blessing of Water.
“It’s not just local, this is held all over the globe,” Deacon Lawrence Hartman of Christ the Savior Orthodox Church of Spokane Valley said. “All the waters mingle together and the blessing flows through the waters of the entire world.”
Members from three parishes — Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church of Spokane, Christ the Savior and St. John’s Orthodox Church of Post Falls — came together for the celebration.
“The waters saw thee and were afraid; the forerunner was seized with trembling and cried aloud saying: How shall the lamp illuminate the light? How shall the servant set his hand upon the master? O Saviour who takest away the sin of the world, sanctify both me and the waters,” the reader sang.
After the liturgy the Rev. Stephen Supica of Holy Trinity tossed a cross, which was tied to a string, into the river three times — thus blessing the water.
Then worshipers were sprinkled with the holy water, carrying the blessing back to their homes.
Theophany, also known as Epiphany, is also the culmination of the Christmas season.
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Tracy Simmons is an award-winning journalist specializing in religion reporting and digital entrepreneurship. In her approximate 20 years on the religion beat, Simmons has tucked a notepad in her pocket and found some of her favorite stories aboard cargo ships in New Jersey, on a police chase in Albuquerque, in dusty Texas church bell towers, on the streets of New York and in tent cities in Haiti. Simmons has worked as a multimedia journalist for newspapers across New Mexico, Texas, Connecticut and Washington. She is the executive director of SpokaneFāVS.com, a digital journalism start-up covering religion news and commentary in Spokane, Washington. She also writes for The Spokesman-Review and national publications. She is a Scholarly Assistant Professor of Journalism at Washington State University.