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Monday, January 27, 2014

In Utah, fight breaks out at Greek Orthodox church


SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A melee erupted Sunday at a Greek Orthodox church near Salt Lake City after longstanding financial tensions flared toward the end of a service, police say.

Members of Prophet Elias Greek Orthodox Church in Holladay pushed and shoved each other during the service after a former leader announced he would still show up for work even though he was let go in December, some churchgoers said.

"It's contentious; it's unfortunate — let's just put it that way," said Tykie Skedros, the parish's second vice president, referring to the months-long dispute and to Sunday's scuffle. "It's a sad state of affairs, but hopefully it'll get corrected. These things do tend to improve with time."
After the former leader's announcement, another leader cried out in opposition and began fighting with a member, according to those in favor of reinstating the Rev. Michael Kouremetis. The group, Protect Our Clergy, is raising money to bring him back onboard.

Parishioners took the pushing and shoving into the narphex, a room adjacent to the service space that is seen as a spot to leave behind worldly concerns before entering the temple.
Police were called to the church, but no one was injured or arrested.

Tensions have mounted at the church since parish leaders floated plans in July to cut pay for three priests by 40 percent. The Greek Orthodox authority in Denver, which oversees the Holladay parish, ordered that the priests receive their full salaries.



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