Wednesday, August 17, 2005

St. Helena's Chapel (Istanbul)

Battle to save a past and hopefully future church building:


1. In Turkey protestants are only supposed to meet in Churches that are zoned as places of worship.

2. A number of the Turkish fellowships rent old churches, and thus satisfy the laws.

3. St Helenas Chapel is part of the British Consulate. It was damaged by bombing. The Foreign Office has plans to sell the site to a hotel, and close the chapel for worship.

4. The church council for Istanbul is fighting these plans, and needs community support.

5. St Helenas could be used in the future for a fellowship.

Phase One of our campaign to save St Helena’s Chapel Istanbul following the al-Quaeda bombing of 2003 has ended. The Church Council has succeeded in stopping the developer’s work on the site mostly thanks to the court action in June 2005. Access to the Chapel and freedom of worship there continues to be forbidden by the Consul-General, though an independent view suggests the Chapel is reasonably safe. The Consulate has not yet signified the Foreign Office’s intention to cease pursuing the commercialisation of the property. The damage, illegally done to our churchyard by the developer with the permission of the Foreign Office, remains a sorry daily wound for all of us to endure.

Phase Two. As the Chapel has been situated on British Government land for centuries for the purposes of Turkish Law, phase two involves a serious appeal through the democratic procedures available to us, The Mother of Parliaments. A question has been asked in the House of Commons. The Foreign Secretary has responded, but in a most insufficient manner. His response does not demonstrate any awareness of the elected and appropriate body whose duty it is to administer the affairs of St Helena’s Chapel, The Church Council. The Foreign Secretary defers to the Bishop who does not legally reside in Turkey and is unable to judge or witness locally on our behalf, but to whose spiritual rights we naturally defer."

St. Helena's Chapel (Istanbul): 11 Jul 2005: Written answers (

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