ST. GEORGE — When people hear the word “orthodox” in reference to religion, they tend to think of the Jewish faith rather than the ancient Christian church, David Bartosiewicz said Wednesday as he sat on a bench set along the wall of a small, recently renovated chapel in downtown St. George.
The smell of carpet cleaner was in the air as Bartosiewicz explained that Orthodoxy, as he referred to it, was the original apostolic church founded by Jesus Christ through his apostles 2,000 years ago.
“We claim that we are the original apostolic church,” he said as fellow members of St. George’s newest Christian church hauled in another bench from outside in preparation for this weekend when the church holds its opening services.
The chapel where the St. George branch of the Orthodox Christian church will be meeting is a former Christian Science building located at 373 S. 100 East that was donated to the church by an anonymous party.
The inside of the building was empty Wednesday afternoon, save for the benches being carried in. Bartosiewicz said the church would be filled with pews and icons in time for the first services to be held Friday evening and Saturday morning.
Both services will feature Father Justin Havens, the pastor of the Saints Peter and Paul Orthodox Christian Church in Salt Lake City, as well as Father John Finley of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America.
While the church will serve a small Orthodox Christian community that has existed in Southern Utah for nearly 30 years, Bartosiewicz says they welcome all who are interested in “going back to the roots” of their Christian faith.
“We’re looking for anyone who is Orthodox Christian and anyone who hasn’t been going to church but want to learn more about the ancient and original church – it’s here,” he said.
Bartosiewicz said the Orthodox church is also a place where those who have left The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can go and keep their faith in Christ alive, rather than falling to atheism.
“We’re here to help those ex-Mormons come home and come and see and experience the ancient faith,” he said. “I think there are many ex-Mormons who would see this faith and probably enjoy it.”
To help get the word out about the new church in St. George, Bartosiewicz posted news of it on his YouTube channel and social media.
The Orthodox church shares its origins with the Roman Catholic Church until the Schism of 1054 when the Roman church and Eastern Orthodox church split. While both sides claim unbroken apostolic authority, Bartosiewicz says it can be found in the ancient Orthodox church.
Today the Roman Catholic Church claims over a billion members and is the largest of the Christian faiths followed by the Orthodox Christian Church, which is estimated to have 200-250 million members worldwide.
The church also comes in many different expressions, or manifestations, Bartosiewicz said. These expressions include Greek, Russian, Serbian, Antiochian Orthodoxy and many others, the latter to which the new church in St. George belongs.
However, despite the different expressions of the Orthodox faith, they are all united as one, Bartosiewicz said.
The first service of the new church will be held at 6 p.m. Friday and includes a prayer service, a talk and dinner. The second service will be held Saturday at 9 a.m and includes the communion and a brunch.
The new Orthodox Christian church is located at 373 S. 100 East in St. George. Those who wish to learn more can contact Father Justin Havens at [email protected].
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