In celebration of the completion of major restoration, the Armenian Evangelical Emmanuel Church held a rededication service on 2 December 2018 in Aleppo, Syria. Hundreds of worshippers were present, as well as high-ranking religious, community, and state leaders. The RCH also shares this joyous celebration in spirit.
The Armenian Evangelical Emmanuel Church of Aleppo was established in 1852 in the old city, while the current church structure was built in 1923. It is the same church which the Reformed Church in Hungary (RCH)’s delegation visited during their solidarity visit in December 2017.
The Armenian Evangelical Emmanuel Church in Aleppo is located in the Munshieh district, a district mainly populated by Armenian communities. During the civil war in Syria, the Armenian Evangelical Churches have been targeted several times.
On the morning of 17 January 2016, the Armenian Evangelical Emmanuel Church was severely damaged after a missile attack on several Aleppo neighborhoods, including Munshieh, Azizieh, and Saad Jabri. Fortunately, there were no casualties. The building, however, suffered extensive damages; the roof and pews of the church were partially destroyed.
Thanks to international cooperation of partner organizations, including Gustav Adolf Werk (GAW), Armenian Missionary Association of America (AMAA), Union des Eglises Evangéliques Arméniennes de France (UEEAF), and Union of the Armenian Evangelical Churches in the Near East, the Armenian Evangelical Emmanuel Church (UAECNE) was able to fully restore the church building.
The renovation process of the church began over a year ago, and the physical project started in mid-June 2018.
In celebration of the completion of the renovation of the Armenian Evangelical Emmanuel Church, more than seven hundred attendees were present, including the leadership of the UAECNE, heads of eleven denominations in Aleppo, local clergies and other officials. It was a “festive mood of thanksgiving and hope for peace and renewal,” shared Rev. Haroution Selimian, President of the Protestant Community in Syria, with the RCH.
Through many years of mutual cooperation, the partnership between the Reformed Church in Hungary and the churches in the Middle East has grown stronger.
Since 2008, the RCH and the churches in the Middle East have shared many words of encouragement, peace, and strength. The most recent visit was from the 8-12 October 2018, when leaders of two Syrian partner churches, Rev. Joseph Kassab, General Secretary of the National Evangelical Synod in Syria and Lebanon, and Rev. Haroution Selimian, President of the Protestant Community in Syria, visited Hungary on the invitation of the RCH Presiding Bishop, Rev. István Szabó, to discuss opportunities of further cooperation.
February of 2018, the RCH decided to redirect 10 000 euros per year in support of the projects of the Reformed Churches in the Middle East on the account of the annual financial support provided by Gustav-Adolf-Werk (GAW), a German aid organization. In this way, the RCH has also indirectly contributed to the renovation of the Emanuel Evangelical Church.
Currently, the church has 80-100 members. All were excited to return to the sanctuary and restart their services as they were before the war. For the past two years, the services have been held in the fellowship hall.
Written by Priscilla Yang
Photos from Armenian Evangelical Community in Syria, reformatus.hu