Hellenic Republic (Greece)
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The mainland of Greece forms the southernmost part of Europe’s Balkan Peninsula and is surrounded by the Ionian Sea to the west, the Mediterranean to the South and the Aegean to the east. The northern border is shared with Albania, Macedonia and Bulgaria. In addition to the mainland there are more than 1500 islands scattered about the three seas, including the largest island, Crete, located southwest of the mainland. Greece occupies and area of almost 132,000 sq km (51,000 sq miles) and hosts a population nearing 11 million.
It was on the island of Crete that the seeds of the Greek culture were sown more than five thousand years ago and began to flourish. By the fifth century B.C. Athens emerged as the center of Greek culture developing rich traditions in literature, philosophy, theater, politics and religion. By the fourth century B.C. Alexander the Great had spread Greek culture as far east as India and as far south as Alexandria. With the growth of the Roman Empire by the second century B.C. the Greek Empire began to diminish until eventually coming under Byzantine control where it remained until the fall of Constantinople in 1204. Modern Greece was established in 1832, following four hundred years of Turkish domination, and established a monarchy. Overrun by German and Italian forces during the Second World War, Greece was liberated in 1944 but this signaled an era of civil war between communists and monarchists, with the latter eventually regaining control. A 1967 coup resulted in the overthrow of the monarchy and the establishment of a dictatorship. Civilian government was restored in 1975 and a democratic republic was formed under the official title of the Hellenic Republic. Today Greece is governed by a single legislative body known as the Chamber of Deputies.
Much of the Greek landscape is mountains, with poor soils and sparse vegetation; despite this, agriculture remains an important part of the economy producing wheat, olives, tobacco, citrus and other fruits. Olives are the staple of the agricultural exports. Sheep and pigs are the principal livestock. With few mineral resources much of the industry must depend upon the import of raw materials. Food production, textiles and chemical processing are important industries. The rich heritage of Greece and the temperate climate attracts 10 million visitors a year making tourism among the most important of Greek industries. In 2004 Athens, Greece once again played host to the Olympic Games.
Throughout history Greece has been a religious center. In the seventeenth chapter of the book of Acts the Apostle Paul is found speaking to the Areopagus in Athens and commenting on the Altar to the Unknown God. Today Greek Orthodox Christianity is the State-supported church of Greece and 98% of all Greeks claim that faith tradition. Religious freedom in Greece is guaranteed but proselytism is prohibited.
The Stone-Campbell Movement began in Greece following the conversion of George Dumas, the son of a Greek immigrant in America, who moved to Greece in 1960 in order to preach the Gospel. George, together with Antoni Roussos, worked to plant an a cappella Church of Christ. In 1966 Dino Ruosso, Antoni’s son, began working with the congregation located in downtown Athens. George Dumas later moved to Thessalonica and planted a church there. By 1990 there were seven congregations located throughout Athens and another on the island of Rhodes. Among the workers in Greece have been Arthouros Majoros, who helped plant the congregation in the southern part of Athens (Kallithea); Symeon (Mike) Sinapiades, Bobbis Evdoxiadis, Alexander Melirrytos, Steve Dumas (son of George Dumas) and Dino Tzanetos. Several Ameican missionaries have also been active in the work in Greece including Ervin Bishop, Bill Day, George Galanis, Ralph Henley, Ron James, Orlan Miller, Philip Wall and Debbie Roussos (wife of Dino Roussos).
Mike Sinapiades came to America to study medicine in 1956 ands while a student at Harding University was converted. Afterwards he spent fifteen years preaching in Greece before returning to the United States. Mike has continued evangelistic efforts in Greece in addition to writing and translating tracts, Bible correspondence courses, Jule Miller Filmstrips, a Greek song book and other materials.
With the collapse of the Soviet Union, Greece has been host to many people from various former Soviet republics in search of a better future in Greece or elsewhere. The Greek congregations have been open to these people and have provided them a place of worship. The Omonia Church of Christ in Athens, in addition to providing an English language service, has a Bulgarian ministry and Bulgarian service under the leadership of Hristo Arnaudov which reported more than eighty members in May of 2003. The Greek churches have also been active in reaching into Albania, Bulgaria and Arab countries. Sunset International Bible Institute in Athens, a branch of Sunset International Bible Institute of Lubbock, Texas, provides education opportunities for members of the Churches of Christ in Greece. In the summer of 2001 the a cappella Churches of Christ Pan European Lectureship was hosted at the Lecture Hall of the Royal Olympic Hotel in Athens.
Clinton J. Holloway
National Profiles Editor
For further historical reference:
Churches of Christ Around the World, Lynn, Mac, 21st Century Christian Publications, Nashville, TN, 2003.
For online directories of a cappella Churches of Christ see:
Dino and Debbie Roussos, Omonia Church of Christ
P.O. Box 70127, Glyfada, Athens, Greece
Telephone (from US): 011-30-6944-344167
Fax (from US): 011-30-210-8990558
Sunset International Bible Institute in Athens, contact:
Sunset International Bible Institute
3723 34th Street
Lubbock, TX 79410
Pan European Lectureship