In a communique addressed to all parishes of the Orthodox Church in America [OCA] dated September 1, 1999, Protopresbyter Robert S. Kondratick, OCA Chancellor, announced that a special appeal will be taken in all parishes on Sunday, October 3 to assist relief efforts among the countless individuals suffering as a result of the tragic August earthquake which rocked the Turkey’s Marmara region.
“In the past several weeks we have all learned about the tragedy that has developed throughout Turkey in the wake of the devastating earthquake in that region,” the communique reads. “The human tragedy occurring in Turkey is indeed devastating. Let our Church once again demonstrate her compassion and love for our fellow man in a small way through our prayers and financial support for those in any kind of affliction, necessity, or distress.”
Immediately upon learning of the earthquake, His Beatitude, Metropolitan THEODOSIUS, Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, sent a letter dated August 18, 1999 to His All-Holiness, Ecumenical Patriarch BARTHOLOMEW I.
“It is with pain and sadness that we are learning about the devastating earthquake in Turkey,” Metropolitan THEODOSIUS wrote to Patriarch BARTHOLOMEW. “The stories of the many people who have died, have been wounded, and are now homeless are heartrending.”
“We offer you are deep sympathy, and through you we offer our solidarity in this time of human crisis to the whole suffering Turkish society,” Metropolitan THEODOSIUS continued. “We pray that hearts and lives may be healed, that buildings and roads may be reconstructed, and that the humanity which our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ calls
children of God may build a happier future in peace and safety.”
The Ecumenical Patriarchate, located in the Phanar district of central Istanbul [Constantinople], was spared in the earthquake.
A similar message was sent by Metropolitan THEODOSIUS on August 19 to President Suleyman Demirel, President of the Republic of Turkey.
In a related story, His Eminence, Archbishop HERMAN of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania, on behalf of Metropolitan THEODOSIUS, was one of several eminent US religious leaders who participated in a meeting with Turkish Ambassador to the US, Baki Ilkin to convey condolences in connection with the earthquake. During the meeting, which was organized by Rabbi Arthur Schneier, President of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation, Ambassador Ilkin thanked the leaders for their prayers and willingness to offer financial aid to the countless victims of the disaster.
Later on the same day, Archbishop HERMAN and the other religious leaders met with US Secretary of State Madeline Albright. After acknowledging the “leadership in responding to the earthquake disaster which has traumatized the people of Turkey” displayed by President Clinton and Mrs. Albright, the leaders pledged their prayers and support for ongoing humanitarian aid to the region.
According to Father Kondratick, all funds received in the October 3 appeal will be distributed through Church-affiliated relief agencies, including International Orthodox Christian Charities as well as those administered by Ecumenical Patriarch BARTHOLOMEW, who has undertaken a leading role in relief efforts.