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First modern newly-constructed church to open in the Republic of Turkey

Mor Efrem Syriac Ancient Orthodox Church is the first church to be constructed from scratch in the Republic of Turkey in its modern phase. According to the Istanbul Syriac Ancient Foundation, the construction of the church will be completed soon and it is expected that it would be open to the public in two months. The Foundation’s president, Sait Susin reported that the construction of the church costed around $4 million. The foundation of the church was laid in 2019 amidst a ceremony and it was attended by the President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in the Yesilkoy district of Istanbul.

The Christian Post reports:

The construction of the Mor Efrem Syriac Ancient Orthodox Church, the first-ever church built in the modern Republic of Turkey, is nearly complete and is expected to open within two months, the Istanbul Syriac Ancient Foundation has announced.

The church’s foundation was laid in February 2019 during a ceremony attended by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul’s Yesilkoy district.

“Feverish work is being carried out to eliminate the last deficiencies to open the first-ever church of the Turkish republic,” Daily Sabah quoted Sait Susin, the Foundation’s president, as saying.

The first floor will host the cultural hall for the congregation to gather and hold ceremonies such as baptisms, condolences and weddings, as well as other meetings and conferences, Susin explained. The ground floor will be for prayers and rituals, and will have a bishop’s living area, guest rooms and a parking lot, he added.

Susin told Turkey’s Anadolu Agency that the church cost about $4 million.

He further explained that while there are churches from the Turkish Republic era, Mor Efrem Syriac Ancient Orthodox Church is the first church to be built from scratch in modern Turkey. “They were built without official permission. It is the first time that a church has been officially built. This gives us great pride,” he said.

There was a need for a church in the Yesilkoy, Bakirkoy and Florya districts of Istanbul, where the Assyrian community is densely populated, Susin further said.

Anadolu Agency previously reported that when completed, the church would serve about 17,000 Syriac Orthodox believers living in Istanbul.

It suggested that the increase of the Syriac Christian minority in Turkey due to the Syrian civil war was one of the main reasons for Turkey agreeing to build a new church. Turkish authorities had previously set up a refugee camp reserved for Syriac Christians, hosting up to 4,000 people.

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