The congregation of the Armenian Betel Church gathered for festive worship in Syria's second-largest city on the 21st of March and to give thanks for their refurbished place of prayer.
The original building was bombed in the war, which started exactly ten years ago. Today, and with Hungarian aid, the church building has regained its former glory. Many months had passed since the faithful could worship in their old church due to the ongoing renovations and the pandemic.
Peacemaking and bridge-building on the ruins
The consecration was both an ecumenical and social occasion. The local Christian churches were
present along with the regional governmental representatives. City representatives were also
present when Harout Selimian, pastor of the congregation and president of the Syrian Reformed
Church, reminded everyone of the reconciliation and peacemaking which the Gospel promotes.
Selimian expressed his thanks for the Western help, first and foremost for the Hungarian aid made
possible by the Hungary Helps Program, which restored the congregation’s home.
The struggles of Aleppo started in 2012, and throughout the five years of conflict, many world
heritage buildings, mosques and markets were damaged beyond repair; many still lie in ruins. ISIS
extremists, rebels, free fighters, and government forces have been battling for five years, and, as a
consequence, the Arabian Reformed Church was destroyed. Many Arabian and Armenian reformed
schools were damaged by rockets, their school buses destroyed, and many sacred places have been
lying in ruins for years.
The Hungary Helps Program aided the Armenian Reformed Congregation’s investment and social
service over the last two years. At the beginning of 2019, more than one-million-dollars was given to
the Armenian Reformed Church so that a large number of its buildings and institutions could be
refurbished. Overall, two churches and six school buildings were partially restored. A youth camp was
also refurbished, a brand-new sports field inaugurated, a polyclinic established, and a three-story
multifunction social centre created. Thus, Hungary’s solidarity with the local Armenians has been
firmly established. A humanitarian programme was also made possible from the aid, which helped
the suffering Christian families obtain oil fuel, a scarce and expensive product, at the local market.
The programme also provided basic food supplies and hygienic materials distributed through water
and food stamps.