Opening of St. Georgeís Church in Kamenyuki, October 1, 2009

(You can read about the history of the church here and about the first service there, here ).

The festive opening of St. Georgeís Church in the village of Kamenyuki, Kamenets District, Brest Oblast was held on October 1, 2009.
The construction of the church began in 1998. In was initially financed from the funds of German sponsors and later, by the parishioners and the management of the Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park. A long eleven years had passed by the time the church was finally opened.
The thirty-seven-meter wooden Orthodox Christian church stands on a hill in the middle of the village near the road that leads to the main entrance to the park. The churchís wooden iconostasis was made by local carvers.

Service began at 8:30 PM with the participation of Ioann, the bishop of Brest and Kobrin. The dean of St. Georgeís Church is Archpriest Ioann.

The shots below show preparations for the festivities completed. Locals and pilgrims are gathering to attend the service. The road was paved with flowers to welcome Bishop Ioann.

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Churchwarden Aleksandr Gritsuk is ready to welcome the bishop with a traditional loaf of bread and salt.

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The arrival of Bishop Ioann.

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The bishop changing his robe before entering the church.

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The churchís dean, Archpriest Ioann, welcoming the bishop inside the church.

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The bishop approaching the pulpit.

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The clergy waiting for the bishop to exit the altar.

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The childrenís choir from the Kamenets Sunday school.

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The bishop entering the solea to greet the parishioners.

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The bishop descending to the pulpit to change his robe.

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The bishop changing his robe.

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The bishop giving his blessing to the flock.

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The bishop going back inside the altar.

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The consecration of the communion table in the churchís altar.

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The lighting of the seven-branched candlestick.

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The bringing of the fire out of the altar to light the candles on candlesticks.

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A Gospel Book on the communion table.

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Icons of Saint George and of the Exaltation of the Vivifying Cross of Our Lord.

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The churchís decorations: a chandelier.

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The churchís decorations: the Crucifixion (Golgotha) and Resurrection.

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The churchís decorations: candles on candlesticks.

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Consecration of the church and anointing with holy oil.

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Parishioners lighting candles.

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The bishopís mitre (headdress).

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The bishop entering with a triple-branched candelabrum to give his blessing.

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The bishop reading prayers.

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Washing before performing oblation.

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The prayer continued.

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The bishop at the pulpit.

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The bringing in of the Gospel Book.

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The decoration of the churchís dean.

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Preparing for reading of the Gospel Book.

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The censing of the iconostasis.

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Parishioners and pilgrims.

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The bishop holding a cross and a double-branched candlestick during the blessing.

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An archdeacon reading the Acts.

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The reading of the Gospel Book.

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The Bishop during the blessing.

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A confession.

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Preparing for receiving communion.

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The dean of the church with a paten.

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The bishop with the Sacrament.

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The bishop praying.

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The archdeacon with parishioners reciting the Symbol of Faith.

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The bishopís prayer continued.

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An icon of Jesus Christ at the entrance to the solea.

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The archdeacon entering for the second time to recite Our Father.

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Archpriest Ioann, the dean of St. Georgeís Church.

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The deanís wife, Mariya.

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The bringing in of the Communion cup.

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The Communion.

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Icons being brought out for procession.

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Reciting a prayer.

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After the procession.

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Reading of health wishes.

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The aspersion of the flock.

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At the end of a prayer song.

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The bishop giving a sermon.

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Students of the Sunday school receiving greetings.

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The bishop presenting an icon of Our Lady of Zhirovichi to the church.

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The parishioners being thanked for their part in the churchís construction and decorated with the medal of Cyril of Turov.

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(1 - Valentina Prokopchuk, chief accountant with the national park, 2 and 3 - Churchwarden Aleksandr Gritsuk)
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(Sergei Gritsuk)

Other parishioners being decorated with letters of gratitude for their part in the churchís construction.

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(2 - Michail Khrust, ’ūůŮÚ ŐŤűŗŤŽ ¬ŽŗšŤžŤūÓ‚Ťų, foreman for the church building)

The kissing of the Holy Cross at the close of the service.

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At the end of the service.

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The opening ceremony was attended by five hundred locals and pilgrims. Kamenyukiís own population is just 1,100 people.

(All photographs by Heorhi Kazulka).

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Translated by Alexander Sukhoverkhov