The fifth annual Divine Liturgy on the Akhtamar Island’s famous 10th-century church was held on Sept. 7, with the participation of Christians from Turkey and around the world, the Hurriyet Daily News reports.
The church was reopened to occasional prayers in 2010 after a hiatus of nearly 100 years.
Turkish authorities restored the church on Lake Van between 2005 and 2007 before opening it as a museum. The Divine Liturgy was celebrated there for the first time in 95 years in 2010.
The Divine Liturgy was held at the historic Surp Khach (Holy Cross) Church with the acting head of the Armenian Patriarchate in Turkey, Aram Ateshyan.
This year, Fener Greek Patriarch Bartholomew and the spiritual leader of Turkey’s Syriac community, Yusuf Cetin, also participated in the service for the first time.
Ateshyan said this year they prayed for those who lost their lives in wars, especially in the Middle East.
“Our message is about peace in the country and in the world,” he said. “We pray for the salvation of the souls of those who lost their lives in the wars in Syria, Iraq and Gaza. We will beg to God for people living together, regardless of religion, race or sects. Unfortunately people are being killed in the name of religions and sects. I think that does not suit well to any of the religions,” he added.
Gevas Mayor Sinan Hakan hosted a “Peace Lunch” in the center of the district after the service.
“Gevas is a significant center for Christianity and Islam. As locals of Gevas, we want our guests to feel at home while they are here as part of the ceremony. They are not strangers to us. There was a tradition of living together with them for thousands of years. We want to revitalize that here on the day,” said Hakan.