More than 25 Episcopal bishops from all over the U.S. blessed Alaska, its people and the wildlife at the site of a ramshackle gold dredge near the Chatanika Lodge, on Saturday afternoon. Bishop Arthur Williams, far right, led the ceremony. 

FAIRBANKS — Prayers were offered to bless Alaska, its people and wildlife, Saturday afternoon at the site of the ramshackle gold dredge near Chatanika Lodge. 

More than 25 Episcopal bishops, clad in vibrant red chimeres and white rochets, stood in a half moon formation facing the dredge as they recited their prayers. The bishops had come from all corners of the U.S. and their wives were in attendance too. 

Among them was Bishop Arthur Williams, of the Ohio Diocese, from Cleveland.

“These days we use the word ‘awesome’ a lot,” Williams said. “I have a deeper understanding of the awesomeness of God and his creations after driving from Anchorage and seeing Denali.” 

Williams explained how twice a year the Episcopal bishops gather for missionary work, often going to “far flung” areas of the country. Different groups of bishops also performed blessings in Eagle, Fort Yukon, Venetie, Arctic Village, Beaver, Allakaket and Huslia. 

As the senior bishop at the gold dredge, Williams led the group through the Liturgy for the Blessing of Alaska. 

The bishops started by confessing their sins and asking for forgiveness. Then passages from the book of Psalms were read. 

“The heavens declare the glory of God,” Williams said as he read from Psalms, “and the firmament shows his handiwork.” 

Then in unison, the bishops and their wives finished the verse: 

“One tells its tale to another, and one night imparts knowledge to another.” 

After reading from the books of Ezekiel, the bishops sang a song of creation:

“Glorify the Lord, O mountains and hills, and all that grows upon the earth ...”

The ceremony ended with this blessing read by both bishops and their wives. 

“May God the Father pour blessing upon the earth that God has made. May God the Son pour mercy upon the earth that God has made. May God the Holy Spirit pour healing upon the earth that God has made. Upon our communities, our people, our land. May the land be filled with abundance, and the waters with life. And may the blessing, mercy and grace of God almighty, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit be upon this living world. Upon our ancestors, upon our mothers and our fathers, upon us and upon our children, now and forever, amen.”

Contact staff writer Kevin Baird at 459-7575. Follow him on Twitter: @FDNMcity.