With the arrival of the first evangelical missionary in modern times in Greece in 1829, a new cycle in the religious life of that nation was begun.

The churches of Paul and Apollos had become the Greek Orthodox Church—with its archaic language and its competitive priesthood (the monastic orders against the parish priests). The end result was an unprogressive establishment, for the Orthodox church seemed devoted to maintaining the “status quo.”

The Greek Kingdom was re-established in 1827 when Greece secured freedom from the Turks. Since the Greek church was the main defense and safeguard of the Greek culture during the centuries of Ottoman enslavement, the church was especially esteemed by the Greeks in their new freedom. The church has retained this same influence and leadership for more than a century, even under the republic established in 1924.

With new freedom the first Protestant missionary, Dr. Jonas King of the American Board, entered Greece in 1829, founding schools and publications. He worked for 35 years, but founded no church. He was persecuted and driven from Greece.

During the twentieth century the Zoe movement—originally monastic, now lay as well—has been active within the Greek Orthodox Church. Working largely with youth, its schools, presses and associations encourage Bible reading and religious faith. However, freedom of religion is not one of its tenets. This movement is, in fact, most persistently opposed to Protestant missions.

Evangelical Beginnings

A convert of Dr. King’s ministry, Dr. Michael Kalotathakes, was trained in the United States and returned to Greece. Assisted by the Southern Presbyterian Church, he published literature and eventually erected the first Greek ...

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