Posted by: tylere108 | January 28, 2011

“Bless (Save) Bristol Bay” says Orthodox Church in Alaska

This past week, the Orthodox Church in Alaska conducted a ceremony they have been doing for hundreds of years in Bristol Bay (south central Alaska). His Grace Bishop Benjamin of the Russian Orthodox Church, joined by a few priests from the area, traveled to various villages to bless the water and the Bay that has provided for the villages and communities of Bristol Bay for more than 12,000 years.

As I am sure you can imagine, this is not an easy task. First you have to face the winter weather in Alaska just to get to the villages. Then the Bishop, Priests and communities all process out over the river/water which is frozen (remember its zero degrees on a warm day!) and proceed to cut a Orthodox cross into the ice so that free-flowing water is visible. Then the Bishop placed the cross in the water to bless the waters, praying for a healthy Bay and creation in the coming year.

*Here is the Bishop and individuals from Nondalton, AK processing      out to the water

*A cross is cut into the ice to allow for access to the free flowing water

*Bishop placing cross in the water to bless the water that will support the community in the coming year

This year the Blessing of the Water was particularly meaningful. Anglo American one of the worlds largest mining has proposed the world largest open-pit gold and copper mine at the headwaters of Bristol Bay. Open-pit mining has had devastating impact on the land and water that surround the mine, often becoming contaminated with discharge from the mine and rarely returned to its natural state.

The majority of Alaskan Natives around the Bay are opposed to the mine, and even though the CEO of Anglo American said the company would respect the wishes of the locals, the project continues to move forward.

This years Blessing of the Water was intended to highlight the beauty of the Bay, the bounty of God’s creation, and say to the mining company and the world “not this mine and not here.”

The National Council of Churches has joined the Orthodox Church in the effort to protect Bristol Bay from the environmental injustice that would come with the mine. To learn more and find out how you can help click here.

*Many thanks to Hanna Craig for her photos!



  1. NCC is asking the EPA to protect the Bristol Bay. Join us in speaking up for God’s sacred Alaskan waters here:

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