SURP KHACH CHURCH TO BE OPENED FOR PRAYER ONCE A YEAR
Turkey’s Culture and Tourism Ministry says the Surp Khach Church on
Akhtamar Island in Lake Van and the Monastery of Sumela in Trabzon will
be open for prayer once a year. Minister Gunay says that a cross will
be erected atop the roof of Surp Khach, just as it had been originally,
the Hurriyet Daily News reports.
Mainly spearheaded by efforts to bring prayers back into churches,
Turkey’s cultural initiatives are set to accelerate in 2010, according
to the Culture and Tourism Ministry.
As Surp Khach was initially reopened as a museum, no cross was
placed on the roof of the church. A replica of the original cross,
made according to the traditions of the Armenian Apostolic Church,
was brought to Istanbul by Armenian experts and delivered to Armenian
Patriarch of Turkey Mesrob Mutafyan. The cross is waiting at the
Turkish Armenian Patriarchate to be placed atop the restored church.
Minister Gunay spoke about the latest developments and delays.
"Unfortunately, there were some hitches with the laws that did not
allow historical churches to be opened for prayer," he said. "That
was the reason for the debates over the cross."
Gunay said the ministry is in the final stage of working out the
legal hitches and that similar problems will not be experienced in
Turkey in the future. Gunay said the cross will be placed atop the
church shortly and the building will be opened for prayer once a year,
if there is demand.