New Twist in Old Dispute: “Mission” Established in Salt Lake City
Salt Lake City, UT – A new parish was established in Salt Lake City, UT on Saturday August 23, 2014 under the name “Mission Progressive Parish” with the consent and help of Metropolitan Isaiah of Denver.
The approximately 100 members who comprise the new parish are mostly those who disagreed with the solution imposed by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America to a nearly four year dispute over the division of historic Holy Trinity Cathedral into two parishes. The small minority of congregants that wanted the breakup were supported by Isiah.
After years of fighting that culminated in Isaiah’s closing the two sanctuaries of Holy Trinity and Prophet Elias for the entire month of August 2013, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew finally intervened through Archbishop Demetrios of America with the decision that Holy Trinity will remain a single, unified parish, as it had been for one hundred years.
Soon after that decision which did not satisfy the group that was pushing for the separation of the parish, they begun meeting to establish another parish. Bill Souvall took the lead to organize the group. On June 11, 2014 the group sent a letter to Metropolitan Isiah requesting that he appoint a committee to explore the feasibility of establishing a new parish.
Isaiah replied the next day, June 12, telling them that “on the basis of the fact that over one hundred Orthodox Christians have signed this request, I hereby appoint the following members of our Greek Orthodox faith to be on the ad hoc committee, which I will recognize as the Organizational Committee to investigate the feasibility of establishing a new parish.”
Isaiah appointed twenty persons and wrote to them that “when you feel that you are ready to establish a meeting for the purpose of electing an interim Parish Council, I will be pleased to send my Chancellor to you, as I have done with the seven new parishes of this Metropolis, so that you will be fully organized.”
He also wrote “please feel free to communicate with me for any questions you may have, and also for any needs, to assist you in this God-blessed endeavor.”
Sure enough Isaiah sent his chancellor Rev. Luke Uhl to the group’s meeting at the Hillcrest Junior High School auditorium. He delivered a devotional speech, helped pick 11 members of an interim parish council and presented the oath of office. Those present voted by the raising their hands to establish the new “Mission Progressive parish” in Salt Lake City.
Fr. Uhl said that “to be at the beginning of a parish, where heaven and earth come together, this is a cool thing. A parish is not established for a year or a lifetime, but until the Second Coming” and he added that “this is the good stuff of being a Christian, an Orthodox Christian.”
The parish’s first service will be held on August 31, at 10 AM at The Woods on Ninth, a reception center located at 6775 S. 900 East in Midvale.
The two-story building has rooms on the second floor for a Sunday school. The Liturgy will take place in a room that will seat 150.
The new “Mission” parish will not be recognized ecclesiastically until Archbishop Demetrios of America, who is actually the only ruling hierarch of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, provides the new “Mission” parish with a canonical charter.
Telephone messages of TNH to Archbishop Demetrios and to Metropolitan Isaiah remain unanswered at press time.