Sunday, March 1, 2015

Introducing Mormon-to-Orthodox Converts: Thomas.

This is the first in a series of interviews with Mormon-to-Orthodox converts I will be publishing periodically. I am looking forward to seeing what those interviewed have to share.

I first interviewed Mormon-to-Orthodox convert, Thomas. Here it is!

MtO: There seem to be two main categories that those with an LDS background fall into. First, there are individuals who are or were faithful, active participants, fulfilling their callings and other LDS-specific duties (i.e. temple service, mission service); then there are those who have an LDS background, but have never been particularly active, or have been semi-active at best. Tell us about your LDS background and whether or not you see yourself as falling into one of these two categories. Where did you grow up? Were you and your family active in the LDS faith? How many generations of your family have been LDS? Did you serve a mission? Did you marry in an LDS temple? (Please answer as few or many of these questions as you wish)

Thomas: I grew up in Whittier, California, and attended the 7th Ward. We were (active) and I was at maximum on activity. My mother converted when I was an infant, my father a decade later. I was sealed to them in the Los Angeles temple.

Did you leave the LDS faith before or after learning about Orthodox Christianity? If before, have you been an adherent of any other faith traditions along the way?

I left the LDS faith before learning about Orthodox Christianity. I realized I could not believe in the truth claims of the LDS Church while preparing for my mission. When I left I had no faith. I converted to Christ several years later while taking a required religion course on the Pauline Epistles. Instead of using the course syllabus I used a Catholic patristically sourced commentary.

This all occurred during your time at Brigham Young University, correct?

Yes. The class was at BYU.

How did you find out about Orthodox Christianity?

I began going to various churches but none felt right until I went to an Orthodox Church. I chose the GOA because this was the Church I went to.

What are the main factors that drew you to Orthodox Christianity? Did you ever consider any of the other so-called apostolic faiths (Roman/ Eastern Catholicism, Oriental Orthodoxy)? If so, why did you ultimately choose Eastern Orthodox Christianity?

I am a little different than most Mormon Orthodox converts because I did not reject other versions of Christianity. I followed God where he led me just as Joseph Smith taught me. I am very uncomfortable with standard antiMormon rhetoric. I simply followed the Light the Lord sent my way and I advise everyone to do the same.

That is great. I think it is beneficial to see conversion as acceptance of a chosen path rather than rejection of alternatives.

What is one thing about the Orthodox Christian faith, or your own personal conversion to Orthodoxy, that you would like LDS people to know?

I became Orthodox because of Joseph Smith not despite him.

Very interesting. One of the most pivotal points in the LDS narrative is indeed when Joseph Smith Jr. asks God to reveal to him the true faith. 

Do you have favorite saints? If so, why are they your favorite?

The Panagia (the Holy Virgin Mary) because I am attached to Mount Athos, her garden and I feel closest to her. Saint Simeon of Simonopetra because of being attached to the monastery and having visited his cave many times and hearing personal testimonies from the monks about his constant miracles and presence at the monastery. Mary Magdalene because I have venerated her incorrupt hand, the hand that touched the Lord, many times. Saint Thomas the Apostle because he was not a go along to get along guy.

Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Thomas.


  1. As a Greek Orthodox Christian who grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah, I really enjoy exploring the dynamic and dialogue that can exist between Orthodox Christian and Latter Day Saints. I was very impressed and humbled by Thomas's account...despite my upbringing in the faith, I am not as well-read or educated on it as I could be, and I find Thomas's extensive knowledge and his faith journey to be an inspiration to myself. Orthodox Christians, Mormons, and Christians of all stripes have everything to gain by talking to one another and learning about each other. Kudos, Thomas...Kudos!

    1. Thank you for your comment, Andrew. Thomas is, in my opinion, a wonderful example of how converts to the Orthodox faith can maintain a loving and respectful attitude towards other faith traditions.

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  3. Many years ago (in 1979 or 1980, I think) I met at Simonos Petras, Mt. Athos, an American convert from LDS to Orthodoxy, viz. Thomas Shaw. He was then living in Thessalonica (a.k.a. Saloniki), Greece, was by then an Orthodox deacon studying at the Aristotelian university there, and was later ordained priest. We travelled on Mt. Athos together on I think two other occasions also, and corresponded for some years after that, but when he and his family returned to the USA (somewhere in California), our correspondence dwindled and I no longer know where he is. If the 'Thomas' of your introductory interview with Mormon-to-Orthodox converts is in fact Thomas Shaw, as seems probable, I should be very pleased if you could provide me with a postal or electronic address (or both) for him. My name is Richard Matthews (, but my friends call me Dick. I am British, but live mainly in Switzerland (where I used to teach English, Latin and Greek), and secondarily in the Czech Republic (my wife's country), whence I write this note. We are ourselves committed Catholics, but our interest in Orthodoxy is now a lot broader and deeper than it was when I first met Tom Shaw. If you can provide me with the means of re-establishing contact with him, I shall be extremely grateful. Very sincerely, Richard (a.k.a. 'Dick') Matthews. I append my postal addresses below:
    (until mid-Sept. 2019): K. Majera 132, CZ-252 31 Vsenory, Czech Republic
    (thereafter & permanent): Casa Renata, CH-6954 Bigorio, Switzerland