Istanbul, March 2010: As I climbed the stairs of the Armenian Evangelical Holy Trinity Church in Beyoghlou, Pera, Istanbul, I felt as if I were climbing through the stairs of history. I could feel the passion and vision of our forefathers who laid the foundation of the Armenian Evangelical movement in 1846. The Holy Trinity in Beyoghlou was the result of the same passion, being the first Armenian Evangelical Church in Istanbul and the entire world.
The Church still maintains its historical building, pulpit and chairs, but most of all, it still retains the spiritual enthusiasm of the past. The small congregation, under the leadership of the Council Chair, Mr. Hovhannes Torkomoglou, and lay preacher, Mrs. Sona Ozpenbe, is making sure that the Word is preached every Sunday and made available to the Armenian community in the country.
While preaching there on Sunday, March 21, I surveyed the faces of each and every parishioner. I saw their commitment to serve Christ, His Church and the community, acommitment deeply rooted in history and alive today. It was carried over the years with even more passion to be a living witness for the Lord.
Mr. Hovhannes Torkomoghlou has been faithfully leading the church over the past several years. He has been one of the safeguards of the Church and keen not only to “keep the fort” but to do more. “I am 74 years old and have lived my life,” says Mr. Hovhannes. Even so, Mr. Hovhannes still serves the Church with a vision for the future.
The lay preacher, Mrs. Sona Ozpenbe, has been preaching the Word of God every Sunday and providing pastoral care on a voluntary basis for the last ten years. Mrs. Ozpenbe considers her service a “calling”, a calling to serve the Armenian community through the Holy Trinity Church. The Church has prepared a plaque that will be placed at the entrance of the Church building. The plaque reads: “Armenian Evangelical Holy Trinity Church - The First Armenian Evangelical Church in the World”. As I looked at the plaque, the Church building and the faithful parishioners, I could see the torch of the Mission still illuminated and eager to do more. This, indeed, is the legacy of being the first.