Armenian church on Akhtamar Island hosts first baptism in 98 years

Armenians from Turkey and around the world descended on Akhtamar Island in Lake Van for an annual Divine Liturgy on the island’s 10th-century church, which was reopened to occasional prayer in 2010 after a hiatus of close to 100 years, the Hurrriyet Daily News rports.

The Divine Liturgy was celebrated there for the first time in 95 years in 2010.  This year, a baptism took place during the service in the historical church.

Akhtamar baptismThe Divine Liturgy began at 11 a.m. at the historic Surp Khach (Holy Cross) Church. The ceremony was conducted by the acting head of the Armenian Patriarchate in Turkey, Aram Ateşyan.

“During our religious service, we will pray for our country’s peace, unity and solidarity. There was no empty seats at the service four years ago, but as time passed, the number of attendees decreased. Nearly a thousand people have participated this year, unlike previous years’ thousands. For the first time in 100 years, we will have a baptism inside the church. I would like to take this occasion to thank our governor, the security forces and the mayor,” Ateşyan said.

Worshippers prayed for peace in the Middle East and in the world during the service.

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