Ferry support is resting on higher ground(s)

Do ferry commuters have a higher power on their side?

Brothers and sisters, have ye faith.

Frequent Review correspondent Debbi Lester slipped a missive through the transom this week, noting that amongst the legions rallying in support commuter ferry fare discounts is an order of monks from our neighboring islands to the south.

Indeed, earlier this month, monks from the All-Merciful Savior Russian Orthodox Monastery of Vashon Island made a pilgrimage to Olympia to speak before the House Transportation Committee, urging restoration of discounts for commuters and other frequent riders. The bill sailed through the House by a 95-0 vote, suggesting that for a small order, the Vashon monks swing quite a large quarterstaff.

Now under consideration in the Washington State Senate is the companion piece, SHB-2718, passage of which would send the bill to the governor’s desk. Co-sponsored by Bainbridge Sen. Phil Rockefeller, the legislation has been roundly endorsed by West Sound and Island and Jefferson county newspapers and city councils (including our own), various Chambers of Commerce, even Washington State Ferries officials themselves. Who else would you want in your corner?

Enter the monks of Vashon Island.

According to the group’s literature, the rather arcane Brotherhood was established in 1986 by Archimandrite Dimitry Egoroff and operates under the omophore (a metaphorical veil) of Archbishop Kyrill of the Diocese of San Francisco and the West of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. The Superior of the Monastery goes by the name of Hieromonk Tryphon.

The order set up camp in 1988 on five acres of donated forest land on Maury, the slip of land connected to Vashon by a narrow isthmus. A small chapel was dedicated to St. John the Wonderworker of Shanghai and San Francisco, while the katholikon (main temple) is dedicated to the Holy Protection of the Theotokos. The grounds include three monastic cells and a library building. Visitors and pilgrims are welcome, but are asked to schedule ahead to help preserve the aura of solitude and contemplation.

While you may have no interest in making a pilgrimage – you’ve probably never even heard of the sect – you can bring the monks to your table. Turns out the monastery roasts gourmet coffee, which it sells to support the mission. Amongst the roasts: Abbot’s Choice, Deacon’s Decaf, and – far and away our favorite – the Promised Blend. The beans are organic, shade-grown and fairly traded. Island commuters grateful for the monks’ support in Olympia may want to order up a pound or two as an offering of thanks. Best of all, the coffee is available online at www.vashonmonks.com, so you won’t be gouged with lousy ferry fares to pick some up.

Which brings us back to SHB-2718, popular and sensible legislation that supports the families of ferry communities like our own, and all commuters hit by service cuts and 67 percent fare increases in recent years. To legislators, we say this: you may not want to listen to the newspapers and councils who want folks to get a break at the fare box.

But when the monks lobby, listen up. They’ve got a bigger constituency behind them.

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