Alliance of Baptist Churches in Turkey
Four Baptist congregations have formed the Alliance of Baptist Churches in Turkey.
Ruins and mosaics in the antique city of Ephesus/RGB Stock
The goals of the group are to encourage member churches, explain the teachings of Baptists to member churches and to others, develop Baptist leaders, pray for the churches' needs, highlight these needs to other churches, and strengthen believers by organising seminars, camps and conferences.
Ertan Çevik, pastor of Izmir Baptist Church, was elected president and Orhan Piçaklar, pastor of Samsun Agape Church, was named general secretary. Each will serve an initial term of five years.
Turkey has a deep Christian heritage that goes back to the Early Church, but Christians are now a minority. It is estimated that there are approximately 120,000 Christians in Turkey, out of a population of more than 76 million. Only a few thousand Protestants are in the transcontinental country, which straddles both Western Asia and Southeastern Europe. Sunni Islam is the majority religion.
Many of the travels by the Apostle Paul recorded in the book of Acts were in Turkey. The epistles to the Galatians, Ephesians and Colossians were addressed to churches located in modern day Turkey. The book of Revelation was addressed to seven churches in what is now western Turkey. The first seven Christian Ecumenical Councils took place in the territory that is now Turkey.
The founding of the Alliance of Baptist Churches in Turkey occurs just months before the Baptist World Alliance begins its Annual Gathering in Izmir in early July. Izmir is biblical Smyrna mentioned in the book of Revelation. The Annual Gathering includes a tour of the ruins of Ephesus, an important biblical city of the Early Church.