International Orthodox Christian News

Orthodox youth flock to Istanbul

Friday, July 13, 2007

This week hundreds of Greek Christian Orthodox youth have arrived in Istanbul from all over the world for the second Orthodox Youth Conference. The Orthodox Patriarch Bartolomeos welcomed them to their spiritual 'home'

On Wednesday 780 Orthodox Christian youths from all over the world flocked to Istanbul to participate in a five-day conference dedicated to them, hosted by Patriarch Bartolomeos and the young people of the dwindling Greek Orthodox community of the city. The conference titled Members of the Church – Citizens of the World is the second of its kind and will end with a first-ever concert of Greek singer George Dalaras at Rumeli Hisari on July 15. The first international conference for youth in Istanbul took place in 2000. At the opening of the conference Bartolomeos emphasized the ecumenical nature of the church and of the Patriarchy in Istanbul. “Our Patriarchy is not a national church. Due to its universal holy message and its great importance in the history of the church, the fathers and councils called it ecumenical,” he said. Bartolomeos welcomed the participants from 37 countries and told them they should feel at home in Istanbul. Youth came from as far as Hong Kong, Australia and the United States, while the Rum (Greeks of Turkey) scurried around welcoming participants and making preparations. The show of confidence and participation of the youth was an important event for the Patriarchate in Istanbul, considered by Greek Orthodox to be the home and hearth of not only Byzantium but also the church. Dimitris, 26, from Hopewell, Virginia, traveled all the way from New Jersey with 30 other young adults from the New York and New Jersey area. He had been in Istanbul for only a few hours but said it had already made a strong impression on him. “It's sacred and partially untouched by changes,” he said. For Dimitris, attending this conference in Istanbul was important for the continuation of Christian Orthodoxy. “To be able to go back and take home a more global representation of Orthodoxy from the heart of Byzantium… I think that is something pretty amazing and doesn't happen often in a lifetime,” he said. Other participants said they had also come to meet people their age who share their faith as some, like the Americans, felt isolated from the rest of the Orthodox community. Dimitris said that in his estimation, young people were more involved in their churches in the United States, where identity is intertwined with faith, than in Greece. George Konstantakis, one of the 120 participants that came from Crete, said that he had heard the Patriarch speak many times and was quite involved in his church back home. He, like many of the youth present, feels that this conference will contribute to strengthening the community and equipping them to deal with modern day secular challenges. “I believe that Orthodoxy can answer many of the problems and questions we have,” he said. International representations from Catholic, Armenian and Protestant churches were also present, as well as the World Council of Churches. Around 10 members of the Catholic representation came from as far as Israel, England, Poland, Italy, Germany, Romania and Turkey. Twenty-year-old Theresa Behrens from the United Kingdom, at the conference with the Catholic representation, said that as a youth worker she came hoping to find out what issues the Orthodox youth faced. She said she guessed they were similar to those of the Catholic youth. “A lot of the Catholic youth lack education. A lot of Catholics don't really understand their faith and need teaching,” she said. With Bartolomeos' campaign to reopen the Orthodox theological seminary on the island of Heybeliada, it could be argued that such education is a pressing need for the Greek Orthodox community. “I think the opening of the Chalki (Heybeliada) school is important for many reasons, political and religious,” said Dimitris from Virginia.

Dalaras sets foot in Turkey: George Dalaras, whose nationalistic tendencies have been reported by the media, has been invited in the context of the Second Orthodox Youth Conference to perform at Rumeli Hisari on July 15. This marks the first concert held at Rumeli Hisari in a year and the first time Dalaras has accepted an invitation to come to Turkey. George Dalaras, a world-renowned Greek singer, has been captivating audiences since the 1960s. Although his mother was a Greek refugee from Turkey and he has traveled around the world giving performances, until months ago he has refused to come to Turkey. In an interview with the Greek TV channel ET 1 six months ago, Dalaras said: “If Cyprus cannot be Greek, then I'm not setting foot in Turkey.”

ISTANBUL - Turkish Daily News

0 Responses to “Orthodox youth flock to Istanbul”

Post a Comment


Enter your email address:

OBL Feeds | FeedBurner

Copyrighted | Holymonk Studios |