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Orthodox Epiphany Special To Air On NBC-TV And The Hallmark Channel

New York, NY – EPIPHANY: THE FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS, a special production of Greek Orthodox Telecommunications (GOTelecom) with the National Council of Churches and the Interfaith Broadcasting Commission, will be available for broadcast throughout the country at the discretion of local NBC affiliates between Christmas and the end of January 2003. The program will also be broadcast nationally on the Hallmark Channel on Sunday, January 5, 2003 at 6:00am Eastern and Pacific Time, 5:00am Central Time. (To review a complete listing of affiliates, please visit http://epiphany.goarch.org). Major underwriting for this program is being provided by the Archbishop Iakovos Leadership 100 Endowment Fund. Additional funding is being provided by Faith and Values Media.

Epiphany or Theophany (the manifestation of God) commemorates the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River by St. John the Baptist. Of all the observances of Epiphany throughout the world, none is more deeply religious in tradition and significance or more colorful, than in the Greek Orthodox Church; and nowhere does the observance take place on the scale witnessed in Tarpon Springs, Florida, the place where Greek Epiphany and its traditions were introduced to America over 100 years ago.

This one-hour production presents the timeless truths of Orthodox Christianity as it tells the story of celebration of Epiphany in Tarpon Springs, reaches back in time with an overview of Orthodox faith and traditions, and seeks to foster an understanding of the true personal and universal meaning of Epiphany. The program includes contemporary location footage and archival still photos to illustrate and bring to life interviews from several noted Orthodox theologians and scholars led by His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in America.

PROGRAM OVERVIEW

Entering Tarpon Springs, normally a city of 35,000, is like entering a small part of Greece, especially on January 6 when Epiphany is celebrated with great joy and pageantry. Hundreds of pennants float in the breeze; American and Greek flags fly everywhere. Thousands of people from every faith and denomination, from practically every state in the country come to witness the impressive ceremony, which begins at St. Nicholas Cathedral, an exquisite Byzantine structure.

As the Liturgy continues, interview comments present the Orthodox meaning of Epiphany and baptism, including the ecological and social implications of the blessing of the waters. Visuals include historic sites in Israel, the place of the life and ministry of Christ, and iconography related to His baptism. Further comments reflect on these places and events and relate them to the celebration of Epiphany and to Orthodox faith and practice.

Following the Divine Liturgy and blessing of the waters, Archbishop Demetrios, hierarchs, clergy, dignitaries and thousands of people form an impressive procession to Spring Bayou, with school children in traditional costumes, choir members, Greek Folk dance groups from throughout the United States and Canada, civic officials and representatives of Hellenic organizations. There, an invocation is recited, a young lady releases a white dove to fly over the Bayou, and the Archbishop casts a white cross into the water. Some fifty young men dive for the cross, each seeking the honor of retrieving it. The winner then kneels with the cross before the Archbishop for a blessing.

Viewers will see joyful images of the Epiphany celebration, while comments will emphasize that our lives are illuminated by the Light of Christ, a light that leads all of us to offer our faith and our service to others.

ANNUAL PROGRAM OF THE NCCC

Every year the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA selects a faith group to produce a special program for NBC television stations to air during the holiday season. Epiphany: The Festival of Lights is being offered to NBC affiliated and NBC owned and operated stations throughout the country. The scheduling of this type of program is dependent upon each affiliate’s recognition of viewer interest. To help with scheduling the Epiphany special in your area, contact your local NBC station and ask them to air this holiday program on their station anytime between December 25 and the end of January.

Epiphany: The Festival of Lights is available for purchase beginning on January 2, 2003. To order by mail send $25 plus $6 shipping and handling to GOTelecom, 8 East 79th Street, NY, NY 10021, or call (212) 570-3588.

For more specific information and for a viewing schedule, contact Marissa Costidis, Managing Director of GOTelecom at (212) 570-3588 or email at [email protected].

To find areas carrying the program log on to http://epiphany.goarch.org