The Evangelical Church of Greece, the successor of the Greek Evangelical Church, is a united church of Presbyterian, Congregational, Methodist and Independent Brethren denominations, recognized in Greece in 2014, the first such legal recognition in Greece for a Protestant church.
“Evangelical diaconia” emerged in Greece in 1858 with the publication of the magazine “Astir tis Anatolis" (“The Star of the East”) by a Greek physician and theologian, Michael Kalopothakis, who was influenced by the Protestant (Presbyterian) missionary and philhellene, Dr. Jonas King. No missionaries at the time had any intention of establishing a Protestant church in Greece. Only the strong opposition of the State Church (Greek Orthodox) and state authorities to all Protestant theology and ecclesiology compelled Dr. Kalopothakis and other Greeks to organize and build the first Greek Evangelical Church (Presbyterian) at the foot of the Acropolis in Athens in 1871. Within a few years several Greek Evangelical Churches (Presbyterian) were established in other cities in Greece and in the Ottoman Empire. Parallel to this movement, a similar “Evangelical diaconia” was established among Greeks in the Ottoman Empire by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Mission (now incorporated as Wider Church Ministries of the UCC). The churches that were organized in Asia Minor and Pontus were of a congregational polity.
In 1922-23, with the catastrophe of the Greek population in Turkey and their expulsion to Greece, the Greek Evangelicals in Turkey fled to Greece as refugees and either joined their brethren in the local Evangelical (Presbyterian) Churches, or formed new churches (Congregational) in areas where none existed. In 1938, a new united church was formed out of the two church bodies, which shared a common Reformed theology and ecclesiology, but had two distinct church polities. Following the advice of brethren from the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, the church union in Greece modeled the paradigm of the United Church of Canada, which subsequently heavily influenced the church order and by laws of the Greek Evangelical Church.
The Evangelical Church of Greece is a growing Church of 32 congregations with 5,000 members who relinquish ultimate authority to the Scriptures and emphasize Biblical preaching, teaching, pastoral care, and children and youth activities. Many of its members are engaged in the church’s diverse diaconal work in welfare, social justice and ecology.
After 2016, the Evangelical Church of Greece, along with its relief and service to the persons suffering from the ongoing social and financial crisis in Greece, has also developed an extensive program for the purpose of welcoming, caring for, educating, offering legal advocacy and job training for a substantial number of refugees who fled to Greece from countries facing the horror of wars and political crisis and oppression in the Middle East and North Africa (see Perichoresis, below).
The Church also sustains two detoxification centers for drug addicts, maintains a mission center in southern Albania and an orphanage and school for the underprivileged in the town of Kalitzempe in Tanzania, Africa.
The Evangelical Church of Greece is a full member of the World Council of Churches (WCC), World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC), Reform Ecumenical Council (REC), the Council of European Churches (CEC) and the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe (CPCE).
Global Ministries recognized Perichoresis with an Award of Affirmation at the 2019 General Assembly International Dinner.
The mission of Perichoresis NGO is the alleviation of human hardship regardless of ethnicity, race and creed. Those who share the vision of Perichoresis and work towards its realization do so by EMBRACING the destitute and encompassing all people, both native and foreign, in the SPIRIT of INCLUSION.
Perichoresis has programs to provide humanitarian assistance and protection to refugees. They have implemented a wide range of projects, including food distribution, protection, logistics, housing, health care, legal aid, and education projects. The NGO was established in October 2016 by members of the Greek Evangelical Church (GEC) of Katerini and operates under the auspices of the GEC of Katerini and the General Synod of the Evangelical Church of Greece.
The imperative need to provide care for refugees who have been living for months in camps under squalid conditions is the reason for the establishment of Perichoresis.
Perichoresis goal is for every refugee who seeks a better and brighter future in Europe to be given the best possible hospitality during their stay in Greece; to be provided with a safe haven, food, clothing, medicine and health care, psychosocial support, social and educational activities, and legal assistance. The organization seeks to assist them in establishing a daily routine, achieving self-sufficiency as much as is possible, and restoring normalcy in their lives.
Additional information can be found by visiting https://www.perichoresis.ngo/