Church to bless waters at harbor

Ceremony will celebrate the baptism of Christ

The annual St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church Epiphany blessing of the waters ceremony will be Sunday at the Ventura Harbor.

Every year on January 6, the Orthodox Church celebrates Christ’s baptism in the River Jordan by St. John the Baptist. On the closest Sunday after the actual date of January 6, which this year is January 7, the community celebrates the feast in a unique way.

After the 10 a.m. Sunday liturgy, the equivalent of the Catholic Mass, members of the congregation and guests from throughout Southern California will head for the Ventura Harbor. They will gather at approximately noon dockside outside the Greek at the Harbor Restaurant, where several prayers will be said asking God to bless the ocean, protect those who sail, provide temperate weather and protect the faithful. A large cross will be dipped into the harbor waters and a dove released, symbolizing the descent of the Holy Spirit.

As the prayers are read and the choir chants, several 12- to 19-year-olds (usually only boys, but this year the decision to allow girls has been made) will wait for a beautiful large white cross to be thrown into the water. As the cross leaves the priest’s hand, the youngsters dive into the frigid waters to retrieve it. The one who retrieves it will receive special blessings for the year. A special prayer will be read over that young person and then over all of the divers since they dived into the blessed water.

After the prayers, a party will be celebrated at the Greek at the Harbor Restaurant. The event is open to the public, but space is limited and ticket costs apply. To reserve a spot or for more information, contact the Rev. Gary Kyriacou at 443-3376 or St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church is at the Camarillo Airport at 400 Skyway Drive, Camarillo.