GESSARIA, Turkey (Combined Sources)—The St. Gregory the Illuminator Church is scheduled to be reopened during special ceremony and Mass on November 8, community representative announced and the Turkish Radikal newspaper reported Tuesday.
Church renovations, which were funded through donations from local Turkish-Armenians, were recently completed and were a major undertaking entirely funded by the Armenian community.
Zadik Toker, head of the St. Gregory the Illuminator Church Foundation, said the church’s roof was leaking before the renovation and that the last maintenance work for the building was done back in 1990. He said the paintings on the walls were also renovated.
Gov. Mevlut Bilici, Metropolitan Municipality Mayor Mehmet Ozhaseki and Police Chief Arif Akkale have been invited to the opening.
In reporting the news of the opening, the Turkish Hurriyet daily, quoting sources from Radikal, attempted to show a connection between the current Armenia-Turkey rapprochement and the church opening.
In a letter to the editor, the chairman of the Istanbul Armenian Patriarchate Religious Council, Archbishop Aram Ateshian, emphasized that plans to renovate the church were made long before the roadmap and protocol processes began.
Arch. Ateshian also emphasized that the Armenian community of Turkey has been in existence and has undertaken similar projects long before Armenia was even an independent republic.