Anfeh is a Greek Orthodox town in the northern Lebanese coast, 65 kilometers north of Beirut and just 15 kilometers south of Tripoli. With a population of approximately 6,500 souls, Anfeh actually is one big village, and more specifically, a fishing village since a large proportion of its residents are fishermen.
What strikes a visitor to Anfeh is that this large village is a reminiscent of Greece. Not only that almost all of its inhabitants belong to the Greek Orthodox Church. Not because the colours blue and white are seen everywhere. Not because the architecture of the houses and the central church of Saint Church, recall Greece, but above all these is that same relaxed atmosphere that prevails everywhere that makes you think you are on a Greek island.
Anfeh, therefore seems to be built on a Greek island because everything here reminds one of Greece. A Greece of the 60′s actually. A village on a Greek island before the advent of mass tourism with all its consecutive aftereffects. But what immediately attracts a Greek visitor to Anfeh, is not just the Greek character of the whole landscape, but the pure hearts of its hospitable inhabitants.Just as you arrive at the village, before even five minutes pass, the local people will start coming to meet you, they will start to invite you into their homes and offer you their hospitality, they will want to show you their churches – eight in number- to show you the archeological sites of their village.
All this without any expecting anything back from you. Like Greece of the 60′s as we mentioned. The inhabitants of Anfeh are not just good-hearted and hospitable people with very pure hearts, but they also have many other attributes that we have lost or never had. One of these attributes is the strong sense of solidarity among the villagers. Here the word individualism is an unknown word. In Anfeh everything is shared. Anfe is an Orthodox parish with all the sense of the word. Anfeh is an example for us all. The parish of Anfeh is the dream parish of every Orthodox priest.
There is much for us to learn from the Greek Orthodox parish of Anfeh. Here, people don’t go to church in order to addend service and then go home and maybe say one or two “good morning” to someone they know. In Anfeh the parish spirit is very vibrant and well developed. In Anfeh everything is shared as mentioned. The people cook together and eat together in a huge reception room (archontariki) located beside the main church of St. George, a much needed building that is absent from our own parishes. In Anfeh residents live as if the whole village is one big family.
They clean their churches together, they adorn them together, and when Easter comes, they adorn the whole church with the beautiful flowers. They don’t adorn only the iconostasis but literally the whole church-from the women’s part on top, to every corner of the church.Every Sunday, on feast days, Easter, Christmas, during joys and sorrows, the inhabitants of the parish of Anfeh come together after church services, they don’t just goe home, like us, but they come together in communion in their vast reception room.
In Anfeh the word church has not lost its true meaning yet. In Anfeh the Orthodox faith and Tradition is an everyday experience of the people. In Anfeh, emits still, the true light of our faith.