New pastor at Assumption Church
After only a few moments of speaking with Father Brendan Pelphrey, it becomes clear that he is passionate about not only his church but the rich history of the Greek Orthodox faith. With the coming of Greek Easter services, Father Pelphrey was assigned to Price's Assumption of the Virgin Mary Greek Orthodox Church, traveling from the deep south to tend a western flock.
Before coming to Carbon County, Father Pelphrey previously served at churches in Shreveport, La., Cranston, R.I., and Houston, Texas.
Before taking the priesthood, Pelphrey was assigned as Administrative Assistant to the President at Hellenic College/Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, Massachusetts, where he was adjunct professor in Christian theology and mission, world religions, and western civilization.
"My bishop, Metropolitan Isaiah of Denver, came to me and requested I come to Price. He told me it was a wonderful old church with a rich history and quite a few members," explained Pelphrey, who was living in Louisiana before coming to the area. "I originally thought that I would only be here through Easter services but later found that the appointment would be permanent."
Father Brendan and his wife Sharon were only given two weeks notice prior to the move and were still in a hotel at the time of our interview.
"We moved very fast. We drove here so we could get used to the altitude," he continued. "We love the west and we love small towns. I'm from Texas but I love the west."
Father Brendan has a vast educational background which includes a BA degree he obtained from the University of Texas at Austin with a triple major in philosophy, pre-med and honors liberal arts. He went on to obtain additional degrees and certifications from the University of Edinburgh and Holy Cross School of Theology in New Testament and Church History. Pelphrey also obtained a Ph.D. from the University of Edinburgh in Christian Dogmatics and Practical Theology. While at Edinburgh he studied for five years under Prof. T.F. Torrance, one of the foremost patristics - the study of ancient Christian authors - scholars in the world; and Metropolitan John of Pergamon, a man which Pelphrey recognizes as "one of the most important Greek Orthodox theologians of our time."
Just as varied as his education is Pelphrey's life line. He has published four books and hundreds of articles. During the 1980s in Hong Kong he was founding editor of Areopagus, an international full-color quarterly on Christian mission and interfaith dialogue which for ten years served missionaries in more than seventy countries from a wide variety of Christian backgrounds. According to his biography, because of this position, he had the opportunity to meet with leaders of many religions from all parts of the world including the Dalai Lama.
Before becoming a member of the Orthodox Church, Pelphrey was an ordained Lutheran pastor and served as a missionary with his wife for more than ten years. The couple have three married children and seven grandsons.
In addition to his many works within the Greek Orthodox Church, Pelphrey has also spent time as a drug counselor, worked in ministry to street gangs in Great Britain, the United States and Hong Kong; and directed college campus ministries in Texas and Louisiana. While he reported enjoying his travels, Father Brendan stated that Price will most likely be his final assignment.
"We knew about this church before we came to Utah because of it's history," said Pelphrey. "You know at one time there were 3,000 members. My job now will be to locate families that used to be here and check on them. I'm very excited about the fact that after only being here for two weeks I have already been asked to baptize three children and two adults."
Pelphrey's understanding of church iconography is matched only by his ability to convey the meaning of the Greek Orthodox Church's layout. As he is a trained artist and sculptor, he hopes to be able to work with some of the Price church's damaged pieces.