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.
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.”