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8376Greek Orthodox spiritual leader will toss a cross into water today

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  • Bill Samsonoff
    Jan 6, 2008

      Archbishop arrives for Epiphany

      The Greek Orthodox spiritual leader will toss a cross into water today.

      By ELENA LESLEY, Times Staff Writer
      Published January 6, 2008

      CLEARWATER - The spiritual leader who will throw a cross into
      Spring Bayou today -and bless the boy who retrieves it - had warm
      words Saturday for Tampa Bay's Greek Orthodox community.

      "It was excellent by itself," His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios said
      of an annual welcome reception thrown at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox
      Church, "and by anticipation of a wonderful time here."

      A native of Greece, the archbishop, 79, became spiritual head of the
      U.S. Greek Orthodox Church in 1999 and has performed a pivotal role
      in Tarpon Springs' Epiphany celebration several times before.

      He flew in from New York on Saturday and was immediately escorted to
      the Clearwater church, where an enthusiastic audience honored him and
      visiting priests and dignitaries.

      Members of the church began planning the reception, which included a
      formal luncheon and performance by the Orthodox Youth Choir of Tampa
      Bay, a few weeks in advance, said Mary Prinos, a member of the parish council.

      The archbishop thanked event organizers for their "superb
      hospitality," praising them for their attention to both aesthetic and
      culinary detail.

      The group always manages to make "things not only tasty, but visually
      attractive," he said.

      After the archbishop arrived at the church, he was greeted by the
      choir, which sang in Greek, Latin, English and Serbian Slavonic.

      The ensemble was "not an easy, light children's choir," the
      archbishop said, adding that he was very impressed by its performance.

      He said he was pleased to see young people engaged in an activity
      that would enhance their skills and their relationships with others.

      "They're not just singing together, they're bonding together," he said.

      Looking forward to the day ahead, the archbishop said Tarpon Springs'
      Epiphany celebration has a special significance because it ties
      religion to nature. Diving for the cross in Spring Bayou commemorates
      Jesus' baptism in the Jordan River.

      "We need to have the whole of nature - water, air, earth -
      participate," he said of the religious rite, which "emphasizes the
      sacredness of nature."

      Elena Lesley can be reached at elesley@... or 727 445-4167.

      [Last modified January 5, 2008, 22:12:41]