Valley Forge, PA – For the second year in a row, the parishioners of St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Church gathered to celebrate Epiphany day along the shores of the Schuylkill River in suburban Philadelphia.
Following church service, some 75 members drove a few minutes down the winding road to the Audubon park trail of the Schuylkill River. Led by Father Peter J. Thornberg, the St. Sophia members stood by as prayer filled the air. After throwing in his cross and line, all eyes focused as the sun-drenched river glistened around the cross. A moment of silence was observed as it made it’s way back to shore. Smiles and clapping followed as the flock of parishioners then quickly assembled for a group picture commemorating the Holy event. A new tradition was born!
Parishioners of St. Sophia SS. Faith, Hope and Agape Greek Orthodox Church of Valley Forge had been worshiping in the large Community Center building next to the new edifice since 1993. But just last year, the long awaited completion of their new sanctuary was completed and the church opened it’s doors on Palm Sunday weekend 2012.
St. Sophia is establishing itself in the community as a place of traditions and good will. A dedicated group of parishioners and well recognized Greek festival have been at the heart of St. Sophia’s identity. But this moment, along the river and last week’s efforts by the GOYA belong to the future.
Cosmos Philly visited St. Sophia and caught up with GOYA (Greek Orthodox Youth Association) last week in the kitchen of their church. There, Santa’s little helpers (under the direction of John Pogas) were hard at work preparing meals to be delivered to a Lansdale, Pa. shelter that feeds families in need. This monthly gathering of it’s youth (ST. SOPHIA’S GOYA, THE MESSAGE IS GIVING) is another shining example of dedication and tradition that is becoming rooted as part of their identity.
The annual blessing of the waters (commemorate the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River) is a tradition which only 2 churches (we know of) in the metropolitan Philadelphia area perform. The other is St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church in Wildwood New Jersey. While many Greek Orthodox communities take part in this service around the world; St. Sophia, the newest built church in our community, has taken on this Greek Orthodox tradition as part of it’s future.