Cross ceremony by the river near Stalham

The still waters by a Broads staithe splashed three times as a church cross was thrown in by a black-robed priest at the weekend.

As the ripples spread among the moored pleasure boats, a small congregation chanted plainsong, at the annual service to bless the waters of the River Ant, which also recalls the life-enhancing baptismal powers of the River Jordan.

The Sunday service at Stalham Staithe was conducted by Father Stephen Weston, the priest at the tiny 18ft by 13ft St Fursey's chapel, built in his back garden.

The cross thrown into the river normally sits on the altar for blessing the congregation of about nine people, and was 'tied carefully on to a piece of string' before its own baptism off the holiday quayside.

It was part of a day of Theophany, celebrating the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan, and signifying the holiness of water.

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Waters blessed at the church earlier in the day were used by the congregation for healing and prayers. The staitheside ceremony showed the importance of water in the environment, said Fr Stephen, a former Anglican priest who switched to the orthodox faith which goes back to the 'original church' with Old Testament readings, and no sung hymns.

St Fursey's church will hold a special service on Wednesday January 16 at 10am in honour of its patron saint, who came from Burgh Castle, near Great Yarmouth in 630AD.

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