A History of Ten Mile
The Storm of 1953
The Johnson Family Cabin
The Donald S. Willis Family
The Robert and Lucy Crom Family
Orthodox Baptism in Ten Mile Lake
Brandt's Island
Ice Capades of 1971

Orthodox Baptism in Ten Mile Lake:
An Historic "First"?

by Tom Cox

Last summer our son and daughter-in-law, Tom and Oksana Cox, asked whether their 14-month-old daughter could be baptized in Ten Mile Lake. Of course, Sarah and I agreed, not knowing  just exactly what we were in for. Our daughter-in-law, Oksana, who  grew up in Slavgorad, in Siberia , was becoming a member of a small Orthodox parish in the Midway neighborhood in Saint Paul . She planned to invite her priest, Father Andrei, and members of the parish to Ten Mile Lake for Tanya’s (and her own) baptism by immersion in the lake.

So it happened that on Sunday afternoon, July 29, 2001 , Fr. Andrei Boroda, his children, and Fr. Andrei’s lay reader, Nikolai Alyonov, and Nikolai’s wife Linda, son Noah, and daughter Nadya (who was to be Tanya’s godmother) arrived and moved into our guest cabin. They had come bearing not only liturgical paraphernalia but also a large cooler and several bags full of hamburgers, buns, salads and desserts, paper plates, etc., for a delicious outdoor picnic supper.

It was a hot, still day, perfect for swimming, and for a baptism. About five in the afternoon, with several other Fernhurst families gathered for the occasion, Fr. Andrei and Nikolai, with the help of a TV tray, arranged a lakeshore altar, complete with candles, icons and scripture. Next to it they raised a stand to hold a silver censer. Father Andrei, in priestly regalia, Nikolai, Tom, Oksana, Tanya and Tanya’s godmother Nadya formed a close circle in the path on the ice berm under the trees in front of the guest cabin, just a few feet from the water’s edge. In a soft voice,  Fr. Andrei began to read the Orthodox baptismal service, in English, from a loose leaf notebook. Because Orthodoxy is profoundly Trinitarian, he repeated each part of the service, with only slight variation, three times. Occasionally he lifted his eyes to Tanya and her parents, and once in a while would touch Tanya, and blow gently on her to symbolize the touch of the Holy Spirit.

After what seemed to be an almost interminable reading, Fr. Andrei looked at me and said, “Now we begin the baptism.”  What we had heard him read to this point were only the preliminaries! While Nikolai lit the incense in the hanging censer, Fr. Andrei began reading again. At one point he handed his notebook to Nikolai, walked to the water’s edge, knelt down and three times scooped water up in his hands and gently blew on it while he pronounced words of blessing. It was only after another twenty minutes or so that he handed off his notebook, and motioned Oksana toward the lake. Fr. Andrei in his ankle-length black robe and gold and silver embroidered stole, and Oksana in a simple white ankle-length dress holding Tanya (wearing nothing at all) in her arms, stepped down the short sandy path to the water. They walked out along the side of the dock until the water was about waist high. Speaking the baptismal words, Fr. Andre immersed both Tanya and Oksana three times. Remarkably, neither Tanya nor her mother made any complaint, not even as much as a sputter.

The climactic moment having passed, the three returned to the shore. Oksana changed her clothes and dressed Tanya in a beautiful white baptismal dress and bonnet. The small circle of priest and family formed again and Fr. Andrei read the concluding liturgical words. The service had lasted an hour and thirty minutes. What followed, of course, was a feast — hamburgers, hot dogs, potato salad, coke, etc. — and swimming, picture-taking, opening of baptismal gifts and socializing among the gathered family and neighbors and guest parishioners.

We have never heard of another baptism in Ten Mile Lake, let alone by Orthodox rite. It may be that  Tanya’s baptismal immersion, along with the blessing of the Lake , was an historic “first.” If you know of other Ten Mile baptisms, we would love to hear about them.

July, 2002

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Copyright © 2001-2003 Ten Mile Lake Association. All rights reserved.
Revised: June 10, 2003 .

This site was created and is maintained by G. Cox.