Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, Greek consul general for İzmir Theodore Tsakiris and Menemen mayor Tahir Şahin were among the major attendees during Sunday’s opening ceremony of Agios Konstantinos, the Greek orthodox church in Menemen, Turkey, which had been abandoned in 1922 after a population exchange between Greece and Turkey following World War I.
Patriarch Bartholomew I used the following phrases to welcome this significant for the whole Orthodox world initiative: “I greet you all with love, with the belief that this church will add new color to Izmir’s rich culture heritage,” and he continued: “I would like to thank you, the people of Menemen. You have overwhelmed me and my friends with emotion, I will never forget these memories for the rest of my life.”
The town’s mayor Şahin stated subsequently: “For us what matters is not an individual’s religion, sect or race,” and added, “Humanity comes first, and we need religious institutions where everyone can practice their faith.”
The talented professionals, who were responsible for the restoration of Agios Konstantinos after its abandonment for 93 consecutive years were awarded with plaques, while the emotionally strong message of peace and unity was delivered with the plantation of an olive tree and the release of doves, during the ceremony.