At the Crossroads partners in Diyarbakir write that the Turkish government has decided to confiscate their church building.
“According to the cabinet decision published in Official Journal on March 25, an ‘urgent expropriation’ decision is taken concerning 6,300 plots of land in Sur province. Surp Giragos Church, the largest Armenian church in Middle East, Surp Sarkis Chaldean Church, Armenian Catholic Church, Virgin Mary Ancient Syriac Church and Protestant Church are among the places that are expropriated,” reported Armenian news site Agos.
A month ago we wrote that fighting had pushed the Diyarbakir Protestant church out of their building. Since last summer, sounds of gun shots and cannons have become common-place especially in the walled-in section of the city where the church is located. The government in its efforts to root out local militias holed up there have put that part of the city under curfew. Much of that part of town has been destroyed but thankfully the church building has survived intact.
The Protestant pastor wrote (translated from Turkish):
Dear brethren, I greet you in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
As many of you know since June of last year the southeast of Turkey has been racked by ferocious attacks. Especially the city of Sirnak to the east and the walled-in section of Diyarbakir has suffered untold violence. Hundreds of people have died and many more continue to perish. Even though the last couple of weeks have been quiet we are always expectant of further clashes in our city.
On top of this the council of ministers of our government has recently issued a surprising edict whereby all property within the city walls of Diyarbakir will be expropriated. Among these properties there are mosques, churches, homes and other historical buildings. Naturally this decision has put people on edge.
We have also been impacted by this. We have no intent of giving up our church to the government, because our church building is important to us for both spiritual and geographic reasons. Furthermore ,it would be next to impossible for us to acquire such a church building again.
We spoke with our lawyer and made a decision as to what course of action we should take. We need to appeal this decision by opening a court case right away. It appears that this will be a long struggle. On account of this we truly need your support spiritually and financially. I believe the Lord will give us the victory for His name sake. May the Lord bless you in increasing measure.
Currently the church building consists of 4 different land parcels which they are working to unite under one title deed in the name of the Church Association. All this is risky business. Pray for wisdom and direction.