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Renewable Resources Coalition


The Orthodox Church of America's Alaskan diocese has been heavily active in activism related to the proposed copper mine in Bristol Bay called Pebble Mine. In 2008 the Diocese of Alaska voted unanimously on a resolution saying the church would bless any development to improve life for the local population, but would not if the development would pollute aquifers and land. The diocese wanted proof that any developer had done previous projects without polluting the water and land because the Church believed mining developers have a poor track record.

A year and a half later, the Renewable Resources Coalition (an Alaskan organization opposed to Pebble) approached Fr. Oleksa, a priest in the Diocese of Alaska, asking what he could do based on this resolution. With funding from the RRC, Oleksa, the bishop, and other priests made the expensive (chartered) flights to the Bristol Bay region to perform the blessing of the water ceremony. This ceremony was not developed for this issue, it is part of the Orthodox tradition and unique to the Orthodox Church. The purpose of the blessing is to reaffirm Christians' awareness of sacredness of creation, to reaffirm their commitment to nature.

Watch a video of the Great Blessing of Water in Bristol Bay:
Read a letter by the National Council of Churches to the Environmental Protection Agency on Pebble Mine: