Payson will soon be the home of Utah County’s first Eastern Orthodox Cathedral built in the famous Byzantine style with onion dome steeples crowning the church.
“Salt Lake City’s Sts. Peter & Paul Orthodox Church has more than tripled its numbers in recent years, packing its historic downtown building beyond capacity,” according to Bob Mims, church spokesman.
After an 18-month search and gaining the blessings of Payson’s City Council and town planners, the church purchased 5.5 acres of rural land. Sts. Peter & Paul recently broke ground on the property in Payson for its new sister church.
“It’s a beautiful problem,” said the Rev. Fr. Justin Havens, pastor of Sts. Peter & Paul, “and for many years we have been looking for a solution; it became apparent that would be building a new, sister church.”
According to Mims, it is expected to be under construction through summer and open by late fall. It will be built in three phases.
“We’re very excited to have them come,” said Daniel Jensen, city planner.
Jensen said the three-phased construction plan will start with a chapel and parsonage. They will be built in the rustic wood Russian-styled church. The chapel will service about 140 parishioners.
The second phase will include the main cathedral and a church cemetery. The final phase will add a community hall.
The church has contracted with architect Ken Harris, Miller General Contractors and Great Basin Engineering to complete the project.
Tentative plans are for His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, who has enthusiastically blessed the new church project, to consecrate the new Payson church in late fall or early winter of this year.
Havens said the choice of Payson is perfect for his rapidly-growing congregation, half of which is comprised of converts — including former Catholics, Protestants and Latter-day Saints, as well as Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, atheists and agnostics — as well as a rich, multi-ethic mix of Russian, Greek, Serbian, Ukrainian, Romanian, Bulgarian and Middle Eastern Christians.
“Among them are many families who have been driving in, sometimes up to an hour away, from the southern Salt Lake Valley and Utah County. We decided our second church should be in Utah County, a more convenient location for those folks,” Havens said.
The land was purchased from money raised by parishioners who garnered $400,000 in donations. A private benefactor also committed a $350,000 matching grant for the first phase.
“We are overjoyed and humbled by the love of the folks at Payson city as well as the local people. We believe it will be a true lighthouse for the community and Utah,” he said.