The move is a giant leap forward for members willing to reach the island’s population.
On February 18, Seventh-day Adventist Church members and leaders met in Nicosia, Cyprus, for the official opening of the first Greek-speaking congregation on the island. Together, they celebrated the birth of the new congregation, Εκκλησίας Αντβεντιστών Έβδομης Ημέρας στη Λευκωσία, or Nicosia Greek Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Trans-European Division (TED) secretary Robert Csizmadia attended the ceremony, together with local leaders and church members from across the island. “We must take actions that may come with risks attached,” Csizmadia said as he addressed those attending the opening ceremony. The goal? “To follow God’s will and enter the Promised Land,” he said.
Local church pastor Kim Papaioannou made sure that every member is aware of the solemn charge of commitment at the beginning of their journey as a full-fledged church. During the ceremony, nineteen members signed their commitment to serving the church faithfully as they begin this new stage in their relationship with each other, with the Cyprus Region of the Adventist Church, and with God.
“It was a day of praise, joy, and thankfulness for God’s leading in the lives of many people,” a church member attending the ceremony said. God, she said, was the One who allowed them to plant this first Greek-speaking Adventist congregation in Cyprus, an island country where the first official language is Greek. “This is ‘one small step for man, but a giant leap’ for our potential to reach out to the majority population in the island,” she said.
Seventh-day Adventists in Cyprus
Cyprus is a relatively small island situated in a strategic position between Europe in the west and the Middle East and Asia to the east. This has resulted in Cyprus being occupied by numerous foreign powers over much of its history. Having gained independence in 1960, Cypriots are a proud and hardworking people, the vast majority of them in the Republic of Cyprus (in the south) belonging to the Greek Orthodox faith.
The Adventist Church has had at least one church group in Nicosia operating for many years, with the grandfather of the eldest member, Moses Elmadjian, having been the first baptized Cypriot Adventist. Three language groups meet separately to worship each week in Nicosia, but the church still lacks a building in which to meet.
Local church leaders explained some of the hurdles they have encountered in the past few years. “On our behalf, the Trans-European Division received the 13th Sabbath overflow offering in 2020 but, due to the COVID epidemic causing the closure of public worship in many countries across the globe, the amount received was not sufficient to fulfill our plan to build a purpose-built church,” they said. “We hope to be able to purchase part of a building in which at least one language group will be able to soon meet to worship.”
The original version of this story was posted on the Trans-European Division news site.