Greece: Archbishop Athenagoras



  1. Students should be able to say his name and tell his story.
  2. Students should know that he was the first Greek bishop of the church in America.


Possible Lesson Plan:

  1. Open with prayer.


2.   Tell the story of  Archbishop Athenagoras of Greece and America:

            For centuries the Greeks had been ruled by the Turks. Do you remember the Moslem Turks from our lessons on the Crusades and on the Fall of Constantinople? Finally, almost 200 years ago, just after our country got its independence, the Greeks threw the Turks out of their country and were free to worship Jesus again.

            Soon, Greek people were coming to our country – cotton merchants in the South, sponge divers in Florida – all wanted to have Orthodox Christian churches to worship in. They built churches and priests came from Greece. But, there was no bishop – no shepherd to lead the Greek people in America. Each church in each town just did what its priest thought was right. People argued; no one decided. Finally, Archbishop Athenagoras was elected by the bishops of Greece to be the first bishop of the Greek Church in America. He was a tall man with a long, flowing beard. He brought the churches together, built schools, started new churches. The Greek people in America had a leader for their flock. Do you remember what a bishop is? Bishop Athenagoras loved his people as a shepherd and cared for them until he died about 50 years ago.


            3.  True/False Questions:

                                    True                                                     False

Greece used to be ruled by the Turks.                       Greece used to be ruled by pharaohs.

Greek Christians came to America.                            Greek Christians hated America.

Athenagoras was the first Greek bishop of                Athenagoras was the first bishop of

            America.                                                                      Greece.


4.   Review the role of a bishop: What was the role of the original deacons? How were new churches born in the New Testament days? How many churches were there in a city at first? The head of the city’s church was who? How did the need for more than one priest in a city develop?

Who is the head of the bishop? (Christ Himself) What is the primary function of the bishop? (to perpetuate the church) What does a bishop oversee? (diocese) Who has the ultimate authority within a diocese? (the bishop) Who can ordain and through whose authority? Why can’t just anyone ordain a man if everyone can see he has the “gift”? What does “episkopos” mean? (overseer) Can a bishop be married? Show the picture of a bishop in his vestments. Have any of you seen a bishop?

What is the relationship between bishop, priest, and deacon? What sacraments does a bishop share with a priest and a deacon? How has the role of deacon changed through the centuries? What does the word “presbyter” mean? (representative) What does the word diakonos mean? (server or assistant)


5.   Look at some pictures of Greece. What are its buildings like? The weather? The houses, people, clothing, customs? How are these like us and how different? What about food? Has anyone eaten Greek food? Can you remember some of the dishes? We will be making Greek sweet biscuits called Koulourakia in class. Do you like Greek food?


  1. Make Koulourakia: Make dough ahead of time and bring to class.

4 eggs: beat whites till stiff, then beat in yolks, one at a time.

2 cups sugar, 1/3 cup OJ, 2 tsp vanilla, ½ cup melted butter: beat all in in that order.

6-7 cups flour with 3 tsp baking powder: Add slowly until batter becomes a soft ball.


Knead till elastic. Then let students shape their sweet biscuits with a walnut-size piece rolled into a long snake, brush with beaten egg, and bake on greased cookie sheet 350 degrees for 15-18 minutes. Enjoy!












  1. Close with prayer: Lord, we thank you for Your bishops who care for Your churches all around the world and pray for them every day.