3475 South 700 West
Salt Lake City, UT 84119
July 26, 2007
His Grace Bishop Isaiah, Metropolitan
Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Denver
4550 East Alameda Avenue
Denver, CO 80246
His Eminence Metropolitan Isaiah:
Our family wishes to address with you our concerns regarding a division of the Salt Lake Greek Orthodox Parish. As a spiritually and emotionally invested family in the Greek Orthodox community, we have contributed a significant amount of time and resources to both Holy Trinity Cathedral and Prophet Elias Church. We oppose splitting the Salt Lake parish, and we humbly ask that our thoughts are given consideration.
Like many early Greek immigrants, our grandparents selflessly gave their time and money to help found Holy Trinity Cathedral. Years later, our parents and uncles were just as willing to help establish the location of Prophet Elias by donating real estate to the church. Since then, our family, now 29 members strong, worships at both churches.
We are Sunday School teachers and students, choir members, and acolytes. We serve on the Parish Council, the Hellenic Heritage Campaign, and the Hellenic Cultural Association. We are St. Sophia School teachers, students, and members of the St. Sophia School Board.
We are members of junior and senior GOYA. We are OPA dancers, Dionysios Dancers, and dance officers. We are GOYA basketball players and coaches for various teams. We are St. John Chrysostom Oratorical Festival parish winners and Diocese-level participants. We have chaired the tyropitakia booth for the Greek Festival for more than twenty years.
Over the past few years alone, we have contributed *** dollars to our church for many needs. For our family, as with many others, the “almighty dollar” is not first in our hearts and minds. In addition to stewardship, we have donated to the renovation of Holy Trinity Cathedral, the building of the gymnasium at Prophet Elias, Project Mexico Orphanage, and St. Sophia School. Last year we purchased the new altar at Holy Trinity Cathedral in memory of our parents.
Perhaps most importantly, we and our children have developed long-lasting friendships with church members who attend both Holy Trinity and Prophet Elias. We have friends, koumbari, and godchildren who attend both churches, as well.
Through several generations, our families have been blessed and have flourished as participants in the single Salt Lake parish. We are simply concerned about its well-being. We have not been presented with compelling evidence or reasoning to split the strength of the parish. Indeed, the message we have been told all our lives is that the people constitute the “ecclesia,” not the buildings, thus the argument that our one parish – our one united spiritual ecclesia – must separate “to be in harmony with the teachings of the Church” seems designed to confuse. Additionally, there was no mention of our parish
acting against canonical teachings when Prophet Elias Church was constructed over forty years ago, nor when Archbishop Iakovos consecrated Prophet Elias just sixteen years ago. We only pray to continue our stewardship as our families continue to grow, without having to discriminate between separated parishes.
Beyond our family’s prayers, this parish’s unique identity in Salt Lake City makes it even more imperative to keep our parish united. Our society is bombarded by the LDS presence that has molded much of our city’s profile from our news media, to our city landmarks, to the LDS ward houses in every neighborhood, even to our public school curriculum. The communal nature of our two churches has helped provide a protective front for our families rearing children here among the Mormons and their daily attempts at Mormon conversion. Additionally, our unity has fostered spiritual connections among members through collective investment in a single parish’s future and has enabled a great sense of spirit to thrive among our members.
Since the Salt Lake parish’s infancy, our community has been united in worship.
Together we have fostered a sense of identity and belonging as we worship collectively.
Our family stands united in our belief that our collective strength adds up to much more
than the sum of the individual strengths of our members, and in our prayers that our
undivided Greek Orthodox Church of Salt Lake City will remain intact.
Humbly and respectfully,
Jeannine & Warren Timothy
Dino & Kristy Pappas
John & Maxine Pappas
George & Carrie Pappas
Denise & Dean Gianopoulos
cc: Fr. Michael Kouremetis
Mr. Nick Varanakis
** Amount of monetary contributions has been omitted to protect privacy of the family