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Socio-cultural essay - Greek Orthodox Churches in Australia

            The Greek Orthodox Church in Australia has travelled a rocky road on the way to its present shape. Its history is riddled with conflict between the Greek Orthodox Communities that are serviced by the Church and the religious hierarchy that is struggling to control more than just the religious teachings. It can be argued that it is the nature of Greeks to not allow this conflict to ever be resolved but instead to continually push the limits of what they expect as their rights of independence.
             According to the censuses, Australia's Greek Orthodox numbered between 500 and 600 in 1891. (Gilchrist, 1992 P. 270) The Commonwealth census of 1911 showed the number to be 1,464 and these were spread far and wide with minor concentrations in Sydney and Melbourne. (Gilchrist, 1992 P. 387).
             The Greek Orthodox religion was established in Australia by the lay community. This was due to the inactivity of the Greek Orthodox Church in Greece and the absence of religious leaders in Australia at that time. (Tamis, 1994 P. 52). Even though no party was willing to establish the Church, the Greek Orthodox Community was not left without a place to worship. The Anglican Church in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth offered their churches and mission houses for services conducted in the Greek tongue and mainly by a layman. ( Tamis, 1994. P. 52 ).
             The founding of the Greek faith satisfied both the social and, more importantly, religious needs of the Greek Orthodox population. The existing inner city Greek coffee-houses catered to their social needs but Greek family life, included a strong religious element. Whilst Greeks wanted to hear the Greek liturgy conducted in their native tongue, the fear that a marriage celebrated outside the Greek Orthodox Church would not be valid in Greece gave it a sense of urgency. Consequently, in order for Greeks in Australia to be recognised as properly married in the eyes of the Greek Church and State they would either have to travel back to Greece or to a Greek church in Port Said.

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