BY DAILY SABAH WITH AA
ISTANBUL MAR 17, 2023 –
The prayer hall of Mor Efrem Syriac Ancient Orthodox Church in Yeşilköy, Istanbul, Türkiye, March 17, 2023. (AA Photo)
The first church to be built in the history of the Republic of Türkiye – Mor Efrem Syriac Ancient Orthodox Church in Yeşilköy – is awaiting an opening, which was postponed due to the deadly earthquakes in Kahramanmaraş.
In 2019, the foundation was laid with a ceremony attended by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to cater to the request of the Syriac community concerning the allocation of a place of worship.
President of the Istanbul Syriac Ancient Foundation Sait Susin said, “All work is done” and that shortcomings have been taken care of to open the first-ever new church in the Turkish republic. This will be the second church belonging to approximately 17,000 Assyrians in the city. Susin explained that the church built in Tarlabaşı in 1844 did not meet the needs of the Assyrian community in Istanbul, and hence they had to pray in six different churches affiliated with fellow congregations. Due to differences in rituals and time, it was hard for them to perform prayer rituals without hassle.
“Owing to this need, we requested our government allocate a separate place for worship mainly in Yeşilköy, Bakırköy and Florya, where the Assyrian community is densely concentrated. We also wanted an allocation in Bakırköy, where our congregation is concentrated, to build our church. The (former) Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality Mayor Kadir Topbaş supported our cause and allotted a plot in the Latin Catholic Cemetery,” Susin outlined.
Emphasizing that the church was built in accordance with modern needs based on historical church examples, Susin said, “We have countless churches in Mardin, the southeast and the Middle East built a thousand years ago. There is important stonemasonry in all our churches from Mardin and the eastern cities of Türkiye, and that stone is a widely spoken about granite that we could not use here. Rather, we tried to make a church suitable for contemporary conditions by using Syriac church characteristics.”
Adding that they visited the earthquake zone with the Kadasetli Patriarch who came to Türkiye to pay condolences to the country, Susin said that their churches in Adıyaman along with many other churches and historical buildings in Antakya were damaged and that reconstruction efforts were still on.
Categories: Arab World, Asia, Middle East, Syria, Turkey, Turks
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