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Midvale • Metropolitan Isaiah looked out on the congregation of a fledging parish and was reminded of the early days of Christianity.

"This is the way the church began almost 2,000 years ago, with congregations like this" when people held divine liturgies in their homes, Metropolitan Isaiah said, standing before a packed congregation at a Midvale reception center Sunday morning, under the light of electric chandeliers. The dozens of men, women and children filling the room make up the new Greek Orthodox Mission Parish of Utah, which formed from the Prophet Elias Church and Holy Trinity Cathedral in August after a dispute.

"This was the Lord's promise: that his church would never be destroyed," Metropolitan Isaiah said. "And this is living testimony today, here, that I experienced."

The snowy Sunday marked the regional leader's inaugural visit to the parish's temporary home at The Woods on Ninth, 6775 S. 900 East. He was accompanied on his visit from the Metropolis of Denver by the Rev. Deacon Paul Zaharas.

Metropolitan Isaiah "seems very pleased with what he sees here, the harmony, the peace," said Chuck Karpakis, vice president of the parish's council. Karpakis was grateful for the Metropolis' steady supply of priests, which has provided good continuity for the parish and said he hopes Metropolitan Isaiah will find it a full-time priest in the near future. "We've already provided in our budget for a full-time priest and a permanent facility," he said.

A normal Sunday for the new parish sees a turnout of about 140 people, but the Metropolitan's visit brought out more than 200. The parish is looking for a new space of about 8,000 square feet with room for about 250 people to accommodate anticipated growth.

"One of our paradigms is to attract people ... ," Karpakis said. "A lot of us are Greek and proud of our heritage, [but] we don't want this to be an ethnocentric thing. We want to expand to people of all ethnicities."

The Greek Orthodox community went through a schism earlier this year, but Karpakis said that members are now "looking forward only" and "leaving [the issues of the past] behind."