Priest Faces Criticism over Churching Decision

BaptismPlease join us in welcoming H. Alethia to the Onion Dome family. Here is her first article.

FAWKSWASH, Md. – Allison “Panteleimona” Berry, a newly baptized Orthodox Christian, had been looking forward to her January illumination for about a year. According to her, her baptism fell a bit short of expectations.

“I’d been super excited since I saw an infant baptism a few months ago,” she told the Onion Dome in a recent interview. “I wanted to be presented in the church the same way.”

What was lacking? The sign of the Cross. In the service of Churching a mother and child 40 days after birth, the priest takes the child and “lifts it up in the sign of the Cross before the Gates of the Temple, saying: The servant of God (Name) is churched, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”

“I wanted to be presented in the sign of the Cross,” Berry said. “Was that too much to ask?”

It shouldn’t have been.

With the help of some acolytes, Fr. John (St. John the Short) of St. George’s Church certainly could have lifted the 5 foot 2 inch 22-year-old. Father, however, disagreed.

“I don’t think my back could have held out for it,” Fr. John told us. “But even so, think of the precedent that would set! I have baptized people that are a lot harder to lift than Panteleimona.”

The swiftly growing mission church has seen many baptisms in its short time. In fact, Panteleimona was one of two being baptized that Sunday. When asked about the second person, Fr. John admitted this was part of his reason for denying Panteleimona’s churching. “Christopher is much heavier, yes. It would have been too difficult to manage and I thought there should be uniformity in the service.”

Panteleimona, however, misses what could have been. “I just wish I could have had the experience of being carried in Fr. John’s arms around the church. It would have symbolized perfectly just how much of a spiritual father he is to me. I’m upset to have missed that spiritually.”

Fr. John again cites his lower back problems and maintains he will continue to be a spiritual father to Panteleimona. Except without the carrying.

Copyright © 2012 H. Alethia. All Rights Reserved.


About Your Intrepid Blogger

I live in the Tacoma area. When not writing things some people think are funny, I teach technology to 7th and 8th graders at a local middle school.

4 comments on “Priest Faces Criticism over Churching Decision

  1. I’m sorry that Panteleimona was confused. In fact, the whole article seems confused. The *churching* that Panteleimona witnessed was NOT a baptism. It is the service held when a child enters the church for the first time, 40 days after birth. Panteleimona was unfortunately ~2 or so decades late for that service. Panteleimona was being *baptized*. This is a different service. Baptisms do not have any “presentation in the sign of the cross” in them.

    In the Orthodox church, we are not supposed to innovate new ceremonies. Instead, we are supposed to accept what the God and the Church have provided for us in humility and gratitude. We should not think so highly of ourselves and our brilliant ideas that we remake the sacraments according to our own wishes and desires. This would disrupt the unity of the Church: everyone doing things differently worldwide. Instead, be grateful for God’s mercy in leading you to the true faith. As an adult convert of many years, I assure you that God’s church is full of amazing richness and beauty and truth which should suffice us all for a lifetime.

  2. It’s a JOKE!! Don’t you get it? This is a satirical cite. And quite entertaining! Glad I stumbled upon it today!

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