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The democratic system of government present in Athens, Greece, intermittently in the 500 years before the death of Christ, has been hailed by many as the forerunner to modern democracy. In order to commune and make decisions, the city-state of Athens met in the "Ekklesia", or people's assembly, to which any citizen over the age of 20 had a right to attend, speak, and vote.
When the early church had to choose a word to describe themselves one of the main words that they chose was also "Ekklesia" - this secular, political term. Although the Christian faith has been frequently separated from politics, when you consider that the central message of Jesus ministry was of a new kingdom, and that his death was politically motivated, the choice is perhaps not surprising.
The thinktank Ekklesia was set up in 2002 by Jonathan Bartley. It was initially an initiative of the Anvil Trust, which has run the Workshop theology training programme for 25 years in the UK. Co-director Simon Barrow joined in 2004 and in 2005 it was listed by the Indpendent newspaper as amongst of Britian's top 20 thinktanks. In 2006 it became a not-for-profit limited company.