Topeka church organizing efforts to aid home church in Turkey after quakes
TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - One church in Topeka is lending a helping hand halfway across the world after its home church in Turkey was leveled in the recent earthquakes.
Father Nikolai Meyers, the Pastor at Saints Peter and Paul Orthodox Church, tells 13 NEWS that his church is part of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch - the modern Turkish city of Antakya where Peter and Paul visited in the book of Acts where the following was first called Christians.
Father Meyers said the ancient city has largely been destroyed due to the recent earthquakes in the area. He said their Cathedral has been leveled but will be rebuilt.
Meyers noted that his church encompasses the area of the recent earthquakes that devastated Southern Turkey and Northern Syria. As his parishioners are directly connected to the area, he said the congregation has been at work with recovery efforts.
According to Fr. Meyers, the humanitarian teams of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch have provided food, clothing, temporary shelter, counseling, hygiene kits, diapers, medicine and medical supplies and have not stopped since the earth stopped shaking. A delegation is also coordinating a larger relief effort in Turkey.
On a national scale, Meyers noted that the U.S. Department of the Treasury has suspended sanctions against Syria which have authorized all transactions related to earthquake relief that would otherwise be barred for 180 days.
The Father indicated that the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America has also raised more than $692,000 already for direct relief efforts in the area. Every dollar collected will reach humanitarian teams on the ground without transactional delays - $250 of which has already been forwarded to the churches in Syria and Turkey.
“My experience of Topeka has been that the people of Topeka care about people internationally. The response that they’ve shown to the Ukrainian refugees we’ve been somewhat a part of has been overwhelming and so I think in general the people of Topeka are concerned when people elsewhere suffer and if they can do something I think they tend to want to do something that they know will have an impact,” says Father Meyers.
Locally, Meyers said his congregation has collected more than $2,600 and will continue to collect funds throughout February. He said 100% of the funds will be sent to the churches in Syria and Turkey for immediate relief. One is even one of the few organizations in Northern Syria that will offer aid to those affected by the quakes.
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