Istanbul ordination may worsen life for Christians

17 January 2008

by Rachel Harden

THE ordination of a local man last weekend by the Bishop in Europe, Dr Geoffrey Rowell, to minister to a Turkish-speaking congregation in Istanbul, has been called “dangerous” by members of the English-speaking chaplaincy.

The non-stipendiary priest, the Revd Engin Yildirim, has been ordained under the Bishop’s Pastoral Initiative for Turkish Ministry, and licensed to minister to his own congregation only.

But the Anglican Chaplain in Istanbul, Canon Ian Sherwood, said this week that the ordination might inflame the difficult situation for Christians in the city.

Dr Rowell’s spokesman, the Revd Paul Needle, said on Tuesday that Mr Yildirim would not be proselytising.

Last February, there was a formal episopal visitation to the Istanbul chaplaincy because of long-running discussions between the chaplaincy and the diocese in Europe over a number of issues (News, 2 February).

A British diplomat, Roger Short, and 60 others were murdered in 2003 in bombings in Istanbul. St Helena’s Chapel, part of the chaplaincy, which lies near the Consulate, was almost destroyed.

The chaplaincy, led by Canon Sherwood, objected to suggestions in 2005 that the site could be leased to a hotel developer. But, after discussions with the diocese and the Foreign Office, work began on restoration of the chapel.

Mr Short’s widow signed a petition in support of Canon Sherwood at the time of the visitation.

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