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Hurricane Jeanne

Service goes on despite Jeanne

After Charley and Ivan caused delays, the Greek Orthodox Church ignored the raging storm to acknowledge a higher power.

Published September 27, 2004

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Monday, Sept. 27: cleanup begins Sunday, Sept. 26: Tampa Bay photos Sunday, Sept. 26: North Suncoast

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Projected path
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TARPON SPRINGS - The first time His Eminence, Metropolitan Alexios of the Greek Orthodox Diocese of Atlanta, planned to deliver a divine liturgy here, Charley intervened.

Then Ivan swept down, and Metropolitan Alexios again canceled. He rescheduled for Sunday.

Just in time for Jeanne.

But this time, Metropolitan Alexios decided not to let an act of God prevent him from installing a new dean at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral.

"Because it's beautiful; it's the nature," Metropolitan Alexios said Sunday evening as the storm subsided. "Every day we hear the noise from the cars and today we can hear the noise from the trees."

Despite bullet-like rain, bellowing winds and a scant and soggy congregation, Metropolitan Alexios went on with a 21/2- hour service to install the Rev. Sebastian Skordallos, archimandrite, as the cathedral dean. Skordallos replaced Father Tryfon Theophilopoulos, the longtime church pillar who was elevated to dean emeritus.

Fewer than 100 church members braved the elements to attend the service - far less than the anticipated 700 to 1,000.

When Jeanne's threat became known, rescheduling was not an option, said Father John Bociu.

"We thought, what can we do, besides pray?"

The bishop had not been keen on rescheduling the first or second time.

"Other times, with Ivan, for instance, it was a sunny day," the metropolitan said.

His moxie means he'll spend an extra night in Tarpon Springs, and take the first flight out when the airports reopen.

He said he planned to spend Sunday night relaxing with St. Nicholas priests and church members "and not talking about the weather."

[Last modified September 26, 2004, 20:56:17]

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