World Fellowship of Orthodox Youth to visit Orthodox communities in
Athens, 04 February 2003
Some 35 Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox youth from all over the
world are to pay a historic visit to the minority Orthodox Christian
communities in Turkey. From 22 to 30 May 2003, the group will
meet with the Greek and Syrian communities of Istanbul and
suburbs, as well as with the Syrian community of the Tur Abdin
region in Eastern Turkey.
The visit is organised by SYNDESMOS, the World fellowship of
Orthodox youth with the blessing of Ecumenical Patriarch
Bartholomeos and Syrian Archbishops Timotheos Samuel Aktas
and Philoxenus Yusuf Cetin.
"Our visit to Turkey pursues several aims," states SYNDESMOS
Secretary-General Rebecca Hookway. "First and foremost, this visit
by representatives of youth organisations from all Local Orthodox
Churches is meant as a tribute to the courage of the Orthodox and
Oriental Orthodox communities in Turkey, which despite their
small numbers maintain a rich spiritual and social life. Secondly,
we come to learn more about their life and heritage, to encounter
the traditions that live in the monasteries, churches and schools of
Istanbul and Tur Abdin. Thirdly, participants will explore the
dialogue between the Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Churches,
benefiting from direct contacts with Church leaders and theologians
from both Church families."
The group will be led by Father Serge Sollogoub (France),
Archdeacon Job Getcha (Canada, currently teaching at St. Sergius'
Theological Institute in Paris) and Hierodeacon Eugene Aydin
(Turkey, currently working on a PhD at Princeton University).
Greatly reduced since the early 20th Century, the Orthodox
communities of Turkey are today estimated at some 2,000 to 4,000
Greeks, 15,000-20,000 Syrians and 40,000-50,000 Armenians.
While the Greek and Armenian communities are largely
concentrated in Istanbul, a small Syrian Orthodox community still
lives in the Tur Abdin region of Upper Mesopotamia, situated
between the cities of Diarbakir (Amida), Urfa (Edessa) and
Nusaybin (Nisibis), cut off in the north and east by the Tigris. Tur
Abdin is home to the oldest surviving Syrian Orthodox monastery,
founded in 397 AD. Poverty and continuing conflict in the region
are still urging many to move away, despite attemps by the Church
to convince people to stay.
Participation is open to all Orthodox Christian youth. Visitwww.syndesmos.org
for more information and an application form,
or contact directly the SYNDESMOS General Secretariat.