In June 2016, Peter & Rosalynd Hall and Mike and Lesley Quinton took out a gift of €1700 from CoGS to an organisation in Athens, helping bring God’s love to refugees landing on Greek shores.
When tragedy is occurring on your doorstep, as Christians and as humans, we are compelled to respond. This is exactly the situation that the Anglican (Episcopal) Chaplaincy in Greece found themselves in when five years ago it became clear that there was influx of refugees in Athens seeking sanctuary in Europe. Then, in partnership with Greek Orthodox Church, they started the soup kitchen ‘Church in the Streets’ for refugees and migrants in Athens.
Since then, the scale of movement into Europe has increased significantly and so has the response of the Church. ln 2015 it is estimated that over 1 million people passed through Greece into Europe, and Greece is now host to around 54,000 people now stranded within its borders. All of this has occurred in a country that is already struggling with austerity and high unemployment – in essence, its own humanitarian crisis.
The Anglican Chaplaincy in Greece works ecumenically to respond to the refugee crisis. It is part of ‘Churches Together of Refugees in Athens’, a group with a united Christian goal of doing their part in such a large, complex situation. The Chaplaincy aims to be good stewards of its financial resources by identifying efficient and effective programs (or gaps in programs) into which a small bit of funding can go a long way. Since the beginning of the ‘crisis’ they have funded:
- Lighthouse Relief – a volunteer NGO who provided life-saving support for those arriving by rubber dingy on the island of Lesbos
- Medical Intervention – a Greek medical NGO providing medical and psycho-social services on the island of Samos
- Apostoli – the humanitarian arm of the Greek Orthodox Church who have provided non-food relief items to thousands of refugees in Greece and who also run a hostel for unaccompanied minors
- The Salvation Army – partnering to fund a dari interpreter for the day centre in Victoria Square, Athens
- The Ecumenical Refugee Program – providing legal support for those seeking family reunification or who are in need of critical medical attention
- 900 hot meals a week to the pre-deportation centres of Petrou Ralli and Amygdeleza in Athens.
All of this has been done with the support of the Diocese of Europe and the wider Anglican/Episcopal Church through the UK mission agency Us (formerly USPG).
It seems apparent that Greece is only really seeing the beginning of the crisis and that the Chaplaincy will be continuing to respond in the months and years to come, continuing to support refugees who will now be in Greece longer-term.
The Anglican Chaplaincy in Greece, and its ecumenical partners, have asked that we support them through prayer for wisdom and compassion for those involved in ministry, and also those on the move and who have been displaced. Pray too for an end to the war, violence and persecution that they flee from.
lf anyone would like to support the work financially; this can be done via the rapid response fund of UK mission agency Us (USPG).