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Rituals Transform Time
With more than 80 ships launched over a period of less than three years, ship christenings became a regular feature of shipyard life - sometimes as many as four per month. With a christening, each ship was given a name before it was launched and sent on its way to support the Allied troops. A standard set of ritual actions, including prayers, speeches, music, and the smashing of a champagne bottle against the ship's hull, defined this occasion.
In this photograph, the Reverend John Sharp of the First Methodist Church in Brunswick gives the invocation prior to the christening and launching of a Liberty ship. In attendance are the Methodist bishop of North Carolina, G. G. Purcell, along with Mrs. Purcell, and their daughter Claire. Although a member of the local clergy may not have been prominent on a national or regional level, their value to the christening ritual remained important in their role to invoke a divine blessing over the proceedings.
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