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Police respond after argument in church turns physical

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Posted at 5:47 PM, Jan 26, 2014
and last updated 2014-01-26 19:47:07-05

SALT LAKE CITY – An argument turned physical in a Salt Lake Valley church, and police were called in to keep the peace.

The incident took place on January 19.

Two large Greek Orthodox churches in Salt Lake are considered to be in the same parish, and they share a governing council and priests. Holy Trinity Cathedral is downtown and Prophet Elias Greek Orthodox Church is in Holladay.

Witnesses said a priest told the congregation in Holladay he would keep his office open, which is reportedly against the wishes of the council. Shouting in the sanctuary led to an altercation in the lobby, which is also called a narthex.

Lt. Justin Hoyal of the Unified Police Department described the incident.

“Some of these parishioners, they moved outside of the main room where the mass was taking place and moved into another room, where the argument continued," he said. "The argument escalated to where there was some pushing, some shoving, some threats were made--but then ultimately Unified Police was called over there to come in and keep the peace during this situation.”

Jim Mylonakis, a former parish council member, said he hopes the congregations can work through the situation.

"I just hope everybody puts their heads together and try to work together and not have these kinds of problems, because it is, it's not good to be out in the spotlight like this,” he said.

The parish council has tried to fire the priest in question in the past, but their decision was not approved by a regional office in Denver.