Senior Greek Orthodox American leader to meet with Catholic and Latter-day Saint leaders in Utah

Archbishop Elpidophoros of America will be in Salt Lake City this week for the first such visit by the denomination’s chief US prelate in nearly two decades.

(Julius Motal | The Associated Press) Archbishop Elpidophoros stands before his throne on the altar of the Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity during his enthronement ceremony as America’s new Archbishop on Saturday, June 22 2019, in New York. He will be visiting Utah this week.

As the Utahns mark the entry of Mormon pioneers into the Salt Lake Valley 174 years ago this week, the state’s Greek Orthodox community will celebrate a historic arrival of its own.

Archbishop Elpidophoros (Lambriniadis), head of the Archdiocese of America, will visit Tuesday through Sunday, meeting with leading Latter-day Saints and Roman Catholic leaders, on the first trip to Utah by a Greek Orthodox Archbishop in nearly two decades.

It is “somewhat unprecedented” for an archbishop to visit a place for almost a week, said Reverend Archimandrite George Nikas, presiding priest of the Great Salt Lake Greek Orthodox Church. “So we are very excited and very honored to have this happen.”

Nikas said Elpidophoros, who moved to his new post in 2019, is from Istanbul and a longtime theology professor. He made headlines last year when he attended a Black Lives Matter protest in Brooklyn.

“It is our moral duty and our obligation to defend the sanctity of every human being. We have been facing a pandemic of serious physical illness, but the spiritual illness in our country runs even deeper and must be healed with actions as well as words, ”he told the Greek Reporter at the time. “And so, I will continue to stand on the sidelines with all those who are committed to preserving peace, justice and equality for every goodwill citizen, regardless of race, religion, gender or ethnicity. . “

During his stay in the Beehive State, Elpidophoros has to meet a large number of religious and political leaders.

On Tuesday evening, he will meet with Bishop Oscar Solis, who heads more than 300,000 Utah Roman Catholics and interfaith leaders before visiting the majestic Cathedral of the Magdalen in downtown Salt Lake City.

He will meet with Governor Spencer Cox on Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning with the ruling First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall. He is due to meet with Rep. Burgess Owens, R-Utah, on Saturday.

“I’m sure these will be a very warm, cordial and meaningful reunion,” Nikas said, “because the people of Utah are so hospitable.”

The Archbishop will also spend time in the Greek Orthodox churches of the Wasatch Front, including Holy Trinity Cathedral in downtown Salt Lake City, Prophet Elias in Holladay, St. Anna in Sandy, and the Church of the Transfiguration in Ogden. .

Nikas said he and other Greek Orthodox leaders in Utah would brief Elpidophoros on the community’s philanthropic work, as well as the progress of the church’s proposed $ 300 million Greek city construction around the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity.

The community is eager, he said, to learn and exchange ideas with the visiting dignitary.

Nikas also hopes Elpidophoros comes away with “an appreciation for what it’s like to be a little further away” from the headquarters of the Greek Orthodox Church in New York, and especially in a place where members are a religion. very minority.

“It’s kind of a way to get to know him a little better as our chief shepherd,” he said, “and I hope he will make us known as a Greek Orthodox and Greco community. -american here in Utah. “

Editor-in-chief David Noyce contributed to this story.

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