By PAUL CATALA
Published: September 24, 2008
DOVER - The ceremony, celebration and rites were ancient, and included incense and solemn chanting, with roots that could be traced back to the era of Jesus Christ and the 12 Apostles.
As Bishop Daniel Zelinsky walked in a banner-led procession toward the Most Holy Mother of God Orthodox Church, a congregation of about 60 gathered inside their elaborately decorated sanctuary.
There, they awaited the chance to celebrate with the bishop in the same way the Christian Church has held services for 20 centuries.
Zelinsky, known as "Bishop Daniel," made his rare appearance to the church, 3820 Moores Lake Road, on Sept. 7.
As Zelinsky walked in a procession outside and into the church, about 10 children spread flower petals on the ground in front of him.
Once inside the church, the bishop, assisted by acolytes who travel with him from his home church in South Bound Brook, N.J., adorned more formal robes and vestments.
As he did, Most Holy Mother's rector, the Rev. Harry Linsinbigler, and the deacons swung incense burners and a choir chanted hymns in the rear of the church.
During the 10 a.m. service, congregation members prayed and shared Communion with him and greeted him in one of several languages represented by the oldest Christian Church including Ukrainian, Syrian, Slovak, Hindi, Gaelic and Greek.
Zelinsky's visit was a highlight in the church's 20-year history.
"We wanted to introduce him to the people, so they can have a more personal relationship with the hierarchy of the Orthodox Church," said parish member Carrie Linsinbigler, wife of the reverend, prior to the service.
The Orthodox Church can be traced to the days of Jesus and his disciples. According to the church, the doctrine, worship and structure of services have remained intact for two millenniums.
Many of the elements of the ancient worship were seen in the service conducted by the bishop.
This included parish members approaching the bishop with hands cupped and saying, "Master bless."
Zelinsky then blessed them; laying his hands on theirs and having the parishioner kiss his hand or press their foreheads into his palm.
The visit to Most Holy Mother, said the Rev. Linsinbigler, was important as a way to symbolically unite the Dover parish with others around the world.
"It brings our church into a bond with other churches in the diocese and shows we're all members of a larger community," said Linsinbigler, who has served at Most Holy Mother for about 41/2 f years.
The bishop, a native of the Ukraine whose given name is Volodymyr Zelinskyy, has become known throughout the United States and the world for his theological advice and is frequently invited to present lectures and reflections to various parishes and organizations - both Ukrainian and non-Ukrainian - as well as Orthodox and non-Orthodox.
He became a bishop earlier this year.
After the service, a dinner was held at the parish, and parishioners were able to meet and greet the bishop.
"This doesn't happen every year. He's new and we just want to get to know him better," said Daniel Rodriguez, parish council secretary.
"This is special for him and for us."
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