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For Kitsap Church, Ritual Provides 'Rhythm of Life'

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  • Bill Samsonoff
    http://www.kitsapsun.com/news/2009/jan/06/poulsbo-congregation-celebrates-centuries-old/ For Kitsap Church, Ritual Provides Rhythm of Life Kitsap Sun staff
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 7, 2009
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      http://www.kitsapsun.com/news/2009/jan/06/poulsbo-congregation-celebrates-centuries-old/

      For Kitsap Church, Ritual Provides 'Rhythm of Life'

      Kitsap Sun staff
      Tuesday, January 6, 2009

      POULSBO WA

      Converts to the Eastern Orthodox Church are drawn to the religion
      because when it comes to ritual, little has changed in a thousand
      years, says Father Christopher Swanson, who leads St. Elizabeth
      Orthodox Mission in Poulsbo.

      The stability of the ritual was on display Tuesday, when a couple
      dozen members faced fierce winds on a dock at Oyster Plant Park to
      mark the feast of Theophany.

      The yearly celebration, which occurs on Jan. 6, often draws curious
      stares by Poulsbo onlookers who observe church members and clergy
      process to the shores of Liberty Bay with a cross and incense, Swanson said.

      What they are celebrating is the church's version of Epiphany, which
      Christian churches recognize as the feast that celebrates the
      revelation that Jesus Christ is the manifestation of God in human form.

      Part of the worship for the Eastern Orthodox Church involves
      "baptizing" a cross in water, which represents the baptism of Jesus
      in the Jordan river.

      The procession at the park was part of a series of services that
      began Monday evening and wrapped up Tuesday, when members dined
      together to celebrate the feast.

      The Poulsbo congregation, which worships in a building on Highway
      305, boasts about 60 members. It's the only Eastern Orthodox
      congregation in the county. Members have been worshipping together in
      Kitsap County for the last seven years, the last three at the
      church's current location. Previously, they worshipped in Suquamish.

      Church leaders say the congregation is a diverse group that includes
      ethnic Russians, Romanians and Greeks. Adult converts with no
      Orthodox heritage make up about two-thirds of the congregation, Swanson said.

      Many of the converts are drawn to the religion because of the
      Orthodox ritual and lifestyle. Some converts feel the religion they
      had been practicing has become mundane, Swanson said. Many find the
      fast and prayer

      provides a "rhythm of life."

      There's "a very strong sense of the holy," he said.
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