Photo of outdoor prayer by Rev. Timothy Wilkinson

St. Luke’s Orthodox Celebrates Theophany with Outdoor Water Blessing

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St. Luke Orthodox Christian Church in North Spokane celebrated the Eve of Theophany on Sunday, Jan. 5, with an outdoor water blessing at Bear Lake.

Young men jump into Bear Lake to retrieve the cross after a river blessing/Rev. Timothy Wilkinson

Theophany in the Eastern Orthodox Church parallels what is known as Epiphany in the Catholic and some Protestant churches, but instead of remembering the arrival of the three Kings at the manger of Jesus, it commemorates Christ’s baptism in the Jordan river by John the Baptist, and the beginning of His earthly ministry.

According to a press release, about 30 church members gathered for the outdoor service, which included the singing of Psalms, Scripture readings, and the casting of a wooden cross three times into the lake. Each time the cross was thrown into the icy lake, it was retrieved by one of the young men of the parish, who jumped into the water with enthusiasm.

 “Christ’s baptism is referred to as Theophany, which means the appearance or manifestation of God to humanity, wherein God reveals Himself as the Holy Trinity,” said the Rev. Timothy Wilkinson, the rector of St. Luke. “The Father’s voice is heard from Heaven, the Son of God is incarnate and standing in the Jordan, and the Holy Spirit descends upon Him in the form of a dove.”  

The Eastern Orthodox Church throughout the world participates in outdoor blessings of lakes, rivers, and oceans at this time of year.

About Tracy Simmons

Tracy Simmons is an award winning journalist specializing in religion reporting, digital entrepreneurship and social journalism. In her 15 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 and Connecticut. Currently she serves as the executive director of, a digital journalism start-up covering religion news and commentary in Spokane, Wash. She is also a Journalism Instructor at Washington State University.

She also writes for The Spokesman-Review and for the Religion News Service.

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