"Connecting to Muslims"
Come hear God’s story lived out in the Rev. Engin Yildirim, clergy in charge at Church of the Resurrection, Pera in Istanbul, Turkey. He will share insights and lead a discussion on “Connecting to Muslims."
The Rev. Yildirim who was born to a Sunni Muslim family in Turkey, came to faith in Christ at the age of 20 in 1987. He served as pastor and church planter of the Turkish Protestant Church in Istanbul. He studied theology at Wycliff College, University of Toronto, Canada and Oxford, England. Discerning a call to ordination through the Diocese in Europe, Church of England, he was ordained an Anglican priest in 2008.
The Rev. Yildirim is currently the Educational Advisor for the Diocese in Europe and the Church of England. He and his wife, Mine, have a teenage son, Yeshua. He also owns a CPA business in Turkey.
Join us in welcoming the Rev. Engin to Texas on Tuesday, January 26th at 7-9 pm for the discussion at Canyon Creek Presbyterian Church, 3901 Northstar Rd., Richardson, TX.
The Rev. Yildirim's Dec. Newsletter:
Greetings from a gloomy, rainy Istanbul!
Finally, I am sitting by the window and writing this newsletter, which I intended to do so long ago. Catching a cold recently just made this time available, which is probably not a bad thing.
Like today’s weather, the climate in this part of the world has been rather gloomy, if not completely depressive. Turkey increasingly has been in the news about many unpleasant things, such as the elections, terror attacks, and tensions with neighboring countries. Particularly, the refugee crisis in the region caught us completely unprepared.
There are over 2 million Syrians now living in Turkey. It seems as though many of these issues don’t have an immediate solution in the near future,if they ever are solvable. The rise of religious fundamentalism, the hate speech and various levels of discrimination against people thinking and living differently than those who are in power, economic instability regarding the future, constant changes in the education system and more, are causing many Christians and non-Christians alike to be seriously concerned in this current climate. One would ask where is God in all this? This echoes the yearning of the Psalmist “How long o Lord will you not save us?”
For Christians, this is also a time to remind us that presence of evil does not mean the absence of good, indeed God. For us, it is a time to be even more vigilant to do good and to show God’s goodness and grace in the public sphere. As one wise friend of mine said “It is even more important now to show the Christian presence to tell people there is hope and salvation.”
With this picture in mind, 2015 has been a full year both at personal and congregational level. Upon my return from the US in January, the church stared to have a busy period. During the spring, we had twice as many in attendance on Sunday services. What encouraged me most was to see people coming from various backgrounds. We had refugees, as well as, people becoming new believers, some who had lapsed came back to church, and some Christians preferred to experience our expression of worship.
We had two interns who helped us in many practical ways in May and June. We had a wedding in May. Also, we had our bishop join us in May, where we had an ordination to the diaconate, four baptisms, one of which was my son, eight confirmations and one reception. This was indeed a joyful weekend for the Church of the Resurrection.
This followed a summer period, when things slowed down a bit due to the holidays. We had a church retreat at the end of the summer, and also a couple of events in the fall. We had a singles and marriage seminar conducted by two Italian priests from Verona, Italy. Recently, we had a pastoral counseling seminar, which was conducted by a very wise Christian counselor from UK. We were also grateful for a friend, who spent three months with us in the fall to help our music ministry.
Last Sunday, we had our Christmas Carol Service and over 200 adults and many children attended. It was a very joyful event. There were many guests who do not know Christ and we believe that this was a wonderful opportunity for them to hear the Good News. Soon, we will have our Christmas Eve service and we would greatly appreciate your prayers.
We are preparing for our annual children’s refugee dinner, which will be in January 2016. Last year, one hundred children attended and all received gifts, which are prepared by the Church of the Resurrection as well as, friends from other congregations. This dinner has been a great opportunity to show God’s love in action to these children we probably won’t see again. Another new project is called the Milk Project and we will regularly be providing milk for needy mothers with young children. This will kick off on Monday, December 18.
We have about six people preparing for baptisms, which will be in April 2016. We also have a Turkish candidate considering his vocation, who will be going to next level of discernment in London, January 2016. Finally, we are preparing to receive a family from US, who will come and to serve our congregation. They will be arriving in February 2016.
Of course, along with all these encouraging things happing at the Church of the Resurrection, we are also dealing with daily challenges in our journey. There are people who are seeking employment; others are dealing with some health issues. There are a couple of people who go through various degrees of depression and there are several members, who come from broken families.
On the personal side, I have been elected to be part of a new initiation, which is a learning community within the Church of England. In this community, there are about fifty priests coming from various dioceses. The community gathers a couple of times in a year. Recently, the Archbishop of Canterbury graciously hosted the community in Canterbury. Also, I do have an advisory role for vocation discernment, both at the diocesan and national level. For that reason, I have attended my first BAP (Bishops’ Advisory Panel) as an educational advisor, which has been a learning experience for me. I am grateful for each opportunity, which helps me be more connected to the wider church.
Another good news is that my wife, Mine, after many years of hard work, has received her PhD this year. She has been working for a human rights organization for over two years. As one can imagine, she is not lacking of news on this subject in Turkey. The project will come to an end in February 2016. She would like to go for another term, if the project is extended. Unfortunately, we will not know this until another application is approved after February 2016.
Yeshua is in his third year in high school. He has one more year to go before the university. This year is a crucial year for him to be prepared for his university studies. Also, it is a stressful time for him to decide what he would like to study in the future. We appreciate your prayers for guidance and wisdom as he makes some important decisions.
2015 was quite an eventful year for the Church of the Resurrection and my family. As we reflect back over the year, we are grateful for all of you, who have supported us and continue to keep us in your prayers.
As many of you may know that I have been practising accounting along with my pastoral ministry for many years. At the beginning of year 2015, we have taken a big step to have a business partner who would take more responsibility for daily practise, so that I can find more time for ministry. My business partner is not a Christian, though she knows what I do. She has been an immense help for me this year, which enabled me to give myself more fully to my responsibilities at Church of the Resurrection. Please do remember her also in your prayers. Of course, this also means we are increasingly relying on support for ministry. Please do also pray that God would make this possible as we go through this coming years.
As we are approaching Christmas, may I wish you all to experience Christ's peace, blessing and presence in your daily life, family and ministry.
Praying for His abundant blessings in 2016!
The Rev. Engin Yildirim+