Wildwood, NJ – Under an autumn blue sky parishioners looked on, as a wreath touched down into the Atlantic ocean in memory of the many lives lost at 9-11 and parishioners that have passed. A wooden cross followed afterwards commemorating and observing Epiphany day, the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River. Epiphany day is traditionally observed on the 6th of January by millions of Christians around the world.
“We hosted the event early again, said Father Vlahos, a 50 year veteran of Orthodoxy. “If it falls on a Sunday it helps get people to church”, he said. He’s led this congregation for 22 years now and continues to host liturgy services and observe Orthodox feast days for anyone who wishes to attend at this North Wildwood Greek Orthodox community.
As Father Vlahos sprinkled his congregation with holy water, singing by it’s church choir filled the air. President Bill Mitchell of St. Demetrios looked on, and then retrieved the cross from the Atlantic. “As always, it’s too cold to get anyone to go into the water, but we continue to hold the tradition because of proximity to the sea. St. Demetrios is the closest built Greek Orthodox church to the ocean (North America), lying just a few feet away from the Atlantic. The bayside seawall that protects their church has secured the future of this congregation and continues to allow for this tradition to be reenacted. “
Neighbors and strollers from the area looked on, as the congregation continued to sing through the service that lasted a few minutes. Moments later, the sounds of lapping waves on the breakers below took over and the parishioners retreated back into their church hall where New Year’s bread awaited.