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ST. GEORGE — In late 2019 members of southwest Utah's Orthodox Christian community found a place to gather thanks to an anonymous benefactor who provided them with a small chapel in downtown St. George.
Two years later that community outgrew the original chapel and gained a priest all their own rather than having one that commuted back and forth from out of town for services. That priest is Father Thomas Hernandez, who started holding services at the St. George Orthodox Church at its new location at the end of October.
"This came about by the hand of God," Rev. Hernandez said as he spoke to St. George News in early December about the circumstances that brought him to the area.
For Rev. Hernandez, a former Reformed Baptist who converted to the Orthodox faith in 2011 and was later ordained to the priesthood in 2017, his father has moved to the area and needed a hand as he is older and is in ailing health.
"So as I was coming to help him, I asked a friend of mine, Father Justin Havens, who is a priest up in the Salt Lake City area, if the church here needed any help. He got me in contact with the priest who was in charge of this parish, Father John Finley, and I began to come every couple of months and served the church till eventually it just kind of became evident by God's will, and I was assigned here as the first priest – founding pastor – in September."