By Joseph DeCaro, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) - One of the oldest churches in Turkey reopened this month.
According to AINA, a worship service was recently held in the 160-year-old Mardin Protestant Church after extensive restorations as the building had been left in ruins for 60 years.
Although the congregation is small, its pastor, the Rev. Ender Peker, said Mardin province has been home to Christian Protestants since the latter half of the 19th century.
Peker said his congregation was mostly Assyrian: an ancient ethnic group in southeastern Turkey. Today there are only 25,000 Assyrian Christians in the country, but despite decades of religious persecution and economic disadvantages, they and other Christian minorities have recently returned to southeast Turkey.
Since the Justice and Development Party came to power in 2002, Turkey has sought to restore the buildings of minority faiths. Eventually, these properties will be returned to their original owners long after their confiscation by the Islamic state.