(Reading time: 1 - 2 minutes)


Worshippers celebrate the reconsecration of the Surp Giragos Armenian Apostolic Church in 2011.
Photo: World Watch Monitor

After ten months of urban conflict in Turkey's war-torn southeast, the government has expropriated huge sections of property, apparently to rebuild and restore the historical centre of the region's largest city of Diyarbakir. But to the dismay of the city's handful of Christian congregations -- including all its Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant churches -- it also means the relinquishment of control. Unlike the state-funded mosques, Turkey's ancient church buildings (some of which pre-date Islam) have been managed historically by church foundations. The new decision has effectively made the Diyarbakir churches state property of Turkey, an Islamic country consisting of 75 million people.

Perhaps the most shocking seizure involved the Virgin Mary Church in the Lalabey neighbourhood. The 1,700-year-old Syriac Orthodox church claims to contain relics that are especially meaningful to Christians such as a piece of the cross and the bones of the Apostle Thomas. The present leader of the church announced that he is currently negotiating with government representatives in hopes of having the church property returned.

Local municipal officials criticized the government for lacking legal justification for the takeover and potentially causing enormous social and cultural damage to the city. Government officials argue that the decision was even-handed as mosque properties were also expropriated in the move. However, in Turkey, mosques are already state property, since the government funds their construction, maintenance, as well as the salaries of their imams. Further information on persecution in this country is available at the Turkey Country Report.

Please uphold these Christians in Turkey who have had their churches and places of worship taken over by a government that does not represent their beliefs, values or ordinances. Ask the Lord to oversee the mediation process as church officials and government representatives endeavour to work out a solution that's both honouring to Him and fair to all the members of the various churches involved. Throughout the process, may the believers experience a complete sense of God's peace, knowing that all the earth is ultimately His, and everything in it. Also important is the fact that no one can ever take away their faith, nor their great love for Him.

Current Ministry Project

VOMC helps to equip Christians by providing biblical and discipleship resources.

Project Funds: Equipping the Saints

Country Information

Population
82,482,383 (July 2021 est.)

Ethnicity (%)
Turkish (70-75), Kurdish (19), other minorities (7-12)

Religion (%)
Islam (99.8), other (0.2)

Leader
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (2014)

Government type
Parliamentary republic

Legal system
Civil law system derived from various European continental legal systems

Sources: CIA World Factbook

Pray for Turkey

Prayerfully uphold those who have had their churches and places of worship taken over by a government that does not represent their beliefs, values or ordinances. Ask the Lord to oversee the mediation process as church officials and government representatives endeavour to work out a solution that is both honouring to Him and fair to all the members of the various churches. Despite the challenges experienced by the believers of this country, may they have a sense of God's reassuring presence and peace, knowing that one day He will reign supremely and justly over the entire earth.

end

Select a Region

Turkey News

  • Foreign Christian Workers Expelled
    Joy Subasiguller - Photo: Facebook / Joy Subasiguller
    Joy Subaşıgüller and her family
    Photo: Facebook / Joy Subaşıgüller

    Last year, at least thirty-five foreign Christian workers were expelled from Turkey, as their permits had been either revoked or denied renewal. So far this year, the number of those forced to leave the country has already reached si

    ...
  • Teacher Dismissed for Social Media Posts
    Kusadasi, Turkey
    Kusadasi, Turkey
    Photo: Wikipedia / jpitha (c)

    A Christian teacher has been dismissed from her teaching job after the press accused her of conducting missionary activities through social media. Esma Bağci Kaya had been teaching religion and morality at the Hasan Fatma Onal Anadolu High School, a pr

    ...
  • Entry Ban on Christian Workers
    Padlock

    For years, Turkey has placed restrictions on religious leadership training. As a result, many pastors in the country have been foreign nationals. However, new visa restrictions are now being placed on foreign religious workers entering the country.

  • Verdict Upheld in Malatya Murder Case
    Ugur Yuksel, Necati Aydin and Tillman Geske
    Necati Aydin, Ugur Yuksel and Tillman Geske

    On April 18th, 2007, three Christian workers at a publishing house in Malatya, Turkey, were tortured and murdered (see this report). Ultimately five men were convicted and given three consecutive life sentences. Although an appeal was heard on January 23r

    ...