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First Divine Liturgy in 93 Years Held in Historic Greek Orthodox Church in Izmir, Turkey

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Patriarch Bartholomew in IzmirSource: The Pappas Post

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The St. Constantine Greek Orthodox Church in the western Turkish province of İzmir has reopened following renovations. A Divine Liturgy for first time in 93 years took place on May 11, 2015, with the participation of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.

Bartholomew and Menemen Mayor Tahir Şahin reopened the church with a ceremony where they threw white doves and planted an olive tree in the garden as symbols of peace.

Sts Constantine & Helen Church, Izmir, Turkey

Sts Constantine & Helen Church, Izmir, Turkey

Bartholomew, who performed the first liturgy in the historic church since the Turkish army stormed and burned the city in 1922, thanked the municipality and Menemen local government for the renovation of the church. Şahin welcomed him in the garden of the church with flowers before the liturgy. Bartholomew said the re-opening of St. Constantine Church Church will add to the already rich culture of İzmir.

“An indispensable part of the right to religion is the right to worship. We believe that people from all religions should be able to properly perform their worship. Our stance on this issue can be defined as: what we want for the Christian community, we want for the Muslims as well,” said Bartholomew, adding he had prayed for peace, wealth and fertility for Turkey and the world.

Şahin, who has been the mayor of Menemen for 16 years, said during the ceremony that humanity comes first.

“The religion, sect or ethnicity of people is not important for us. We care for humans first. There has to be holy places where people can perform their religious worshipping freely.”

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1 Comment

  1. JAMES ROUMAN on

    If Turkey wished to portray itself as a nation espousing religious freedom for all its citizens, it would allow the Greek Orthodox Seminary on Halki to open rather than obfuscating that issue by sanctioning token acts of religious tolerance such as allowing for an Orthodox service to take place at Soumela Monastery on the Pontos and now at a church in Izmir, both places devoid of Christians—-the result of well known historical events. By permitting the seminary to open now, the Turkish government would demonstrate to the world that it does not condone the actions of Radical Islam, which appears bent on ridding the Middle East of all Christians.

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