The Chapel: A Coworking Space in Athens
** The Chapel Project has since been dissolved due to funding issues after this article was published. Visit here for more opportunities to hear about and support the work in Athens.**
In the spring of 2018, the idea of opening a community coworking space in Athens was born in the heart of GEM worker Mark Doebler.
At the same time, Mark, whose “normal” job is at the Greek Bible College, was approached by two former students with a dream to launch a new church. “We have an ideal spot for our new church plant,” they told Mark. “But it’s way too big.”
Then came the idea: “Would you and GEM be interested in renting the rest of the building?”
Mark, other GEM workers, and these two young church planters began dreaming of what this could look like. As they talked, Mark caught the vision of a partnership between GEM and the church through this location: to use the church as a business-as-mission space.
They all caught the God-timed vision and started working toward what has now become The Chapel Coworking Space.
“We christened our space The Chapel Coworking Space,” said Mark. “We are pitching it to young entrepreneurs, professionals and start-ups as a space where they can grow a close community.”
Situated in the heart of Athens’ business district with thousands of other businesses, The Chapel Coworking Space consists of an auditorium that can seat 70 people, meeting rooms, booths for private phone calls, and a large open space for individual desks.
Along with its strategic location on the main road in Athens’ business district, it is also the center of many chic bars, cafes and concert halls. “This neighborhood attracts young people who frequent this area for work and to gather with friends in the evenings and weekends,” said Mark.
Amid renovation, The Chapel is over 70% complete and already two churches have begun meeting in the space on weekends and renting desks for office space during the week.
Soon they plan to open the space for individuals and companies in the area to rent desks, generating revenue to fund the ministries out of The Chapel and to build deeper connections in the community.
This ministry, in this neighborhood, in this city and country is just what is needed for such a time as this. “We have people from all over the world here,” said Mark. “Greece is returning to the status it had 2000 years ago when it was the center – bringing Europe, Asia, and Africa together.” And when the gospel meets these different people from different nations, it has ripple effects all over the world.
“We really want to use the Chapel as a community,” Mark continued. “In many ways, it mirrors the Church. It’s a place where people can come, find support, and network with others.”
And while the Lord has been faithful in mobilizing the Greek church to steward this space, the need for outside help remains. “We need people to cover us in prayer as we are constantly encountering barriers to opening,” shared Mark. “We also need financial help to finish the renovations of the space.”
On top of prayer and finances, the team at The Chapel is looking for people with backgrounds in business or specific skills like I.T. to serve with the business-side of the coworking space.
The Chapel Coworking Space is an opportunity for GEM to bless the neighborhood and local church. The dream is to bring the gospel to this area in a new and vibrant way that will transform people on so many different levels of their life – spiritually, physically, psychologically, and business-wise.
Story by Grant Klinefelter
Photos by Dustin Johnson
About the author and photographer:
Grant Klinefelter is a storyteller with Greater Europe Mission and serves in Birmingham, England. Visit grantandnaomi.com to learn more.
Dustin Johnson is a photographer and serves with Greater Europe Mission through GEM Teams in Kandern, Germany.