“Greece,” Ensign, Apr. 2010, 71
Rigas Pofantis and Nicholas Malavetis had been looking for religious truths for three years when they happened upon a newspaper article in 1898 that discussed Mormonism. They were intrigued and wrote to Church headquarters to learn more. Church leaders dispatched the president of the Turkish Mission to visit and teach the pair in Greece. In 1903 Nicholas Malavetis died, but two years later, Rigas Pofantis again wrote to Church headquarters and asked to be baptized. Church leaders again sent the Turkish Mission president, who baptized Brother Pofantis and five others, including Nicholas Malavetis’s widow.
The first missionaries arrived in Greece six months after these first baptisms, but beginning in 1909, the Church suspended missionary work there for nearly 70 years, due in part to political unrest in the area. In the meantime, military personnel stationed in the area began to share the gospel with the Greek people. Still, progress was slow; when the Athens Branch replaced the servicemen’s Church unit in 1967, Church rolls included 80 members in the branch but only eight Greeks.
In 1972 Elder Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008), then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, dedicated Greece for the preaching of the gospel. Since that time several developments have encouraged Church membership growth, including the publication of a Greek translation of the Book of Mormon in 1987, the creation of the Greece Athens Mission in 1990, and the dedication of the first meetinghouse in Greece in 1999.