Athens church plant reaches out to Filipino community
here were celebrations all round in a predominantly Filipino suburb of Athens, Greece, when God moved into the neighborhood. On Saturday, Oct. 14, the Athens Filipino Community Centre in Zografou became Athens Filipino Central Church (AFCC).
AFCC’s members toiled for two months to renovate the rented hall to make everything ready for the big day. The result was smiles and a sense of thanksgiving to God. The praises and the special songs uplifted spirits, while the sermon from Greek Mission church region president Claudio Gulyas impacted everyone present. AFCC’s local pastor Adriano Fernandez couldn’t contain his joy. But this is only a beginning, as a delegation from the mother church, the Athens International Church, challenged everyone to repeat the church planting process.
During the afternoon program, Fernandez’s wife, Raleigh, shared a brief history of the AFCC noting its start in March 2015 when, she said, “sons and daughters of God humbly prayed together for the new church to bloom.”
The plant started with a nucleus of just ten members. Their target was to reach out to the Filipinos who are not Seventh-day Adventist and those who may have slipped away from the church. The Athens Filipino Community Centre (AFCC), was thus established with the full approval of the local board and the Greek Mission.
Meetings started in members’ homes and then moved to a church-owned building one hour commute out of downtown Athens. Attendance grew despite the travel distance. However, downtown Athens is a better area for worship as more Filipinos live in the area. The Greek Mission gave members permission to use a vacant hall on the first floor of the Mission office building that had formerly been used as a place of worship. Just one year later they had outgrown the premises and needed to move again.
“Behold, here we are now in our God-given new worship hall wherein we can celebrate the victory that only Jesus can give,” Raleigh rejoiced. “May our good Lord bless our journey of faith so that we’ll impact the community in this neighborhood.”
Gulyas congratulated the entire congregation for their efforts. “Today a new beginning has become a reality. We as the Greek Mission strongly believe in, encourage, and support these kinds of initiatives.”
“You are the salt of the earth,” Gulyas said. “Mingle with people; don’t lose your saltiness and taste. Don’t stay in one location; influence and give flavor to the neighborhood where you live.”
And he concluded, “Let everyone know God has moved into the neighborhood.”