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SALT LAKE CITY -- More than 600 members of Utah's Greek Orthodox community gathered Sunday in an historic meeting to take an unprecedented move. As the members of two churches, they voted to stay together in one parish.
In an overwhelming majority, 97 percent cast their vote for unity. But the result puts the membership at odds with their church hierarchy.
There were a lot of members of our parish who are concerned, want to put some kind of voice into this and their faces to a new message -- that we want to stay together as one parish.
They either worship at Holy Trinity Cathedral in downtown Salt Lake City or Prophet Elias in Holladay. Members may attend either at any time, and together that includes some 1,200 families.
But their religious leader Metropolitan Isaiah in Denver has decided they must split into two parishes. After more than a hundred years as one, many disagree.
In his letters to the parish councils, the Metropolitan Isaiah said he was concerned about arguments over financial matters. Those gathered Sunday wanted to send a message: this is not about finances, it's about family.
"These people aren't fighting over money," said Saltas. "These people aren't fighting with their friends and family at the other church. That isn't what it's about at all."
Two churches in one parish is against archdiocese rules. The Metropolitan Isaiah believes the split will help the faith grow in Utah.
Although we were not permitted to capture the vote on camera, the majority of the membership said there is strength in unity. The parish councils will now deliver the results of Sunday's vote to headquarters in Denver and wait to hear from Metropolitan Isaiah.
The members of the two churches hope he will reconsider his decision.
"As you can see by this broad number of people, there were a lot of members of our parish who are concerned, want to put some kind of voice into this and their faces to a new message -- that we want to stay together as one parish," said Saltas.