Greek and Antiochian Parishes Merge in Tennessee
The Assembly of Bishops reports:
"In an unprecedented action, two Orthodox Christian churches—one Greek and one Antiochian—have merged together to form a new parish in northeastern Tennessee. Holy Resurrection (AOCA) in Johnson City and Holy Trinity (GOA) in Bluff City joined together in their first liturgy on June 23, the Feast of Pentecost. The new parish, which has taken the name Christ the Savior, comes under the jurisdiction of His Eminence Metropolitan Alexios of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese. The parish is served by Fr. Stephen Mathewes, an Antiochian priest who had been assigned to Holy Resurrection.
Holy Trinity and Holy Resurrection were originally mission parishes, founded in 1984 and 1997 respectively. Despite the dedication of their members, both parishes had struggled in recent years. According to Fr. Mathewes, 20-30 parishioners attended Holy Resurrection for Divine Liturgy on a typical Sunday. "With a church that small, if one person comes or one goes, it's a major change. It's devastating if a family moves away or leaves. You feel all those ripples and waves."
For the last several years Holy Trinity had not had a full-time priest. The parish was served by visiting priests who would celebrate liturgy once every 2-3 weeks.