Armenian church in Malatya hosts first religious service since 1915 as a culture

The Surp Yerrortutyun (Holy Trinity) Armenian Church in Malatya, in east-central Turkey, on August 29 hosted its first religious service since the Armenian genocide of 1915, Turkish Minute reported.

According to Alin Ozinian’s story, Holy Trinity Church – built in the second half of the 18th century — was renovated by the Malatya Metropolitan Municipality and reopened as the Taşhoran Culture and Art Center. “From now on, the Armenian sanctuary will serve as a cultural center and the Armenian community will be allowed to hold liturgical, baptism and wedding ceremonies,” a statement released by the municipality said.

After 106 years Surp Yerrortutyun, which was long in ruins and had been closed for congregational use since 1915, reopened its doors to worship.

The restoration, which began in 2012, was halted due to a lack of funding and then restarted and completed under the auspices of Malatya Mayor Selahattin Gürkan.

The Benevolent Malatya Armenians Association (HAYDER), established in 2010 in Istanbul, provided financial support for the restoration of the church’s altar, dome and baptistery and also participated in designing the renovation.

Armenians from across the country attended the opening ceremony and the first Sunday service at the church, located in the neighborhood where assassinated Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink had grown up, which was held with the participation of Armenian Patriarch of Turkey Sahak Maşalyan.

Yetvart Danzikyan, editor-in-chief of the Agos weekly newspaper, thinks it would be better if the Armenian Patriarchate in Istanbul had done the renovation but said it was financially impossible.

“The church opened as a culture and arts center. While it isn’t an ideal formula, maybe we should look at the bright side of things and accept this as the ‘salvation of the church.’ In Turkey, hundreds of churches are being destroyed and turned into ruins. The church in Malatya has somehow been renovated,” Danzikyan told Turkish Minute in a phone interview.

Armenian Patriarch in Turkey Maşalyan and Grigoriyos Melki Urek, deputy patriarch and the metropolitan bishop of Adıyaman, as well as Malatya Mayor Gürkan and Malatya Governor Aydın Baruş attended the opening ceremony.

“The opening of the Surp Yerrortutyun Church is a milestone for this region. For the Armenians of Malatya, this is a feast day,” said the Armenian patriarch.

According to Danzikyan, similar steps have been taken before, such as the reopening of the 10th-century Akhtamar Church situated on an island in Lake Van in eastern Turkey, but unless these steps are supported politically, we should not expect further progress in Turkish-Armenian relations.

In 2006 the Turkish government carried out a rehabilitation project to preserve the historical identity of the Akhtamar Church. In 2007 the church was opened to visitors as a museum. In 2010 the government decided to open the church for religious…

Read More: Armenian church in Malatya hosts first religious service since 1915 as a culture