L A S T M I N U T E !
The Catholic Church in Istanbul has contacted us to draft a protocol for the use of the cemetery. Learn in the second article of this page why this subject is so important for Turkey's evangelical community (February 17, 2012).
Projects for the common good
The Istanbul Protestant Church Foundation (IPCF) advocates for the needs not only of its associated churches but also for the rest of God's people in Turkey, and Turkish society at large. Currently there are several projects of public interest that we are involved in:
- Campaign for the condemnation of "hate crimes" (below)
- Cemetary for the Evangelical community (below)
- Help to refugees through the community in Eskişehir (link)
Turkey boasts of a tradition of tolerance and has typically portrayed itself as a mosaic where ethnic, religious, and cultural diversity thrives. However, particularly in the case of Christian minorities, hate crimes have been hatching at an alarming rate over the past 5 years.
On January 19, 2007, the editor in chief of the Armenian newspaper "Agos" based in Istanbul, Hrant Dink, was shot dead at the entrance to his office by an underage ultranationalist. The instigators were not prosecuted. Hrant Dink and his wife Rakel Dink were outspoken Evangelicals. It is said that the reason for his murder was his call to the authorities to recognize the massacre of Armenians in the early twentieth century.
On April 18, 2007, Necati Aydın (36), Uğur Yüksel (32)ö and Tilman Geske (45) were brutally murdered in the office of a Christian publishing house in Malatya by three young people. The instigators of crime have not been been prosecuted. They are the first martyrs of the modern Turkish Protestant church.
On June 3, 2010, Monsignor Luigi Padovese, Apostolic Bishop of Anatolia and Prelate of the Catholic Church in Turkey, was killed by his driver who was not prosecuted.
All these cases have one thing in common. They are hate crimes toward Christian minorities organized by an ultranationalist sector of the Turkish society that sees the clergy or missionaries as a threat to the integrity of the country.
The campaign "nefretme" ("don't hate"), sponsored by many foundations and NGOs in the country including the IPCF, advocates that these crimes should not be considered common crimes and therefore should not be punishable by light penalties. We advocate that these crimes should fall within the category of "hate crimes" and therefore should result with exemplary punishments that would discourage such atrocities from taking place again.
The IPCF works, intercedes and pleads for the social, legal and spiritual needs of the evangelical community in general not only through their participation in institutional events such as forums, governmental advisory committees, and human rights initiatives but also through their own initiatives, such as the celebration of its 10th Anniversary which was attended by officials representing the government. We also promote health, educational, and social integration projects in conjunction with municipal authorities.
If you are interested in any of these projects please contact us.
A cemetery for the Evangelical community
One of the first questions that Turks ask when approaching the Gospel is: "If I become a Christian and die, where would you bury me?" This question might surprise you, and perhaps you are asking yourselves, "Why is this issue so important?"
All burial spaces in Turkey are allocated according to specific religious and ethnic groups. Currently, existing cemeteries are assigned to Muslims Turks or Armenians, Greeks Christians, etc. There is no cemetary for Turkish Protestants. Hence the dilemma and the difficulties that arise when the an ethnic Turk who is not a Muslim dies.
The IPCF requested authorities the lease of property for this purpose. However, after a long and arduous process, the official response urged the Foundation to request use of one of the existing cemeteries that were not being used by Christian minorities in Istanbul. Currently the IPCF has received approval from the Catholic Church in Turkey to use one of its abandoned cemeteries.
This is not just about solving a practical necessity in case of death, but is a way of strengthening the presence of the Christian community in the Turkish society. It is a matter of great importance that we obtain a respectful resting place for the Evangelical community in a culture which places such high value on dignity and honor.
As seen in the slides below, the cemetery needs to be restored before it can be used.
If you are interested in any of these projects, please contact us.