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30 June 2018

The Association of Protestant Churches in Turkey (TEK) has chosen a new president and board of directors, reports SAT-7’s Turkish channel, SAT-7 TÜRK.

Following voting by other pastors, Mr Ali Kalkandelen, the pastor of Life Family Church, Istanbul, was elected as the new president of TEK. The association, which began informally in the 1980s and was formally established in 2009, represents around 150 fellowships – the majority of Evangelical fellowships in Turkey. Mr Kalkandelen replaces Ankara-based pastor Ihsan Ozbek and will serve in this role for the next three years.

At an induction at Bible House Church, Istanbul, Pastor Kalkandelen said his priorities will be to consolidate the place of Protestant churches in Turkey and to strengthen relations with the nation’s more historic (Orthodox and Catholic) churches.

One task will be to guide churches in the legal steps to take when direction signs to their meeting places have been unlawfully removed from the streets as has happened on a number of recent occasions. Attacks on church properties, occasional threats to individuals and organisations, and misrepresentation and hate speech in parts of the media are problems that TEK monitors in an annual report on violations of the right to freedom of religion in Turkey.

TEK also elected a new Board of Directors: Ramazan Arkan from Antalya Evangelical Church, Pastor Vahan İsaoğlu from KUT Church (Kadikoy International Fellowship) Istanbul, Dr Behnan Konutg, Pastor of Bible House Church, and Soner Tufan, TEK Press Spokesman and one of the pastors of Ankara Liberation Church. Umut Şahin from Karataş Church in İzmir continues as the General Secretary of TEK.

SAT-7 TÜRK Broadcasting Manager, Gökhan Talas, asked for prayer for the TEK leaders. He said, “These are very sensitive positions and, because these pastors represent many of the Protestant churches, they are always open targets for hostile groups.”

As well as requesting prayer for their safety, he said Protestant churches need wisdom and God’s help as they grow and seek to register as associations under Turkish law, as “persecution comes in different forms, and as they share the Gospel in an open way”.

Many of the TEK board members are making programmes with SAT-7 and several are on the channel’s board. New president, Ali Kalkandelen, is a professional spiritual counsellor, who is hosting a series on marriage, while Pastor İsaoğlu plans to present a teaching series giving biblical guidance on the Christian life, on handling struggles and on social issues. Soner Tufan is director of three Christian radio stations and is a partner of SAT-7 TÜRK and occasional presenter.

“We are supporting these churches, publishing their news and announcing events,” Talas said. “SAT-7 is like an open stage for the churches.”

As a satellite TV broadcaster, SAT-7 serves and strengthens relationships across Turkey’s diverse Christian community. With an estimated 110,000 to 160,000 members, Turkey’s churches consist of denominations serving the country’s historic Christian minorities and the Protestant churches that have multiplied mostly since the 1980s and many of whose members come from a non-Christian faith background.

Please pray for the new leaders of TEK as they serve Turkey’s growing but relatively tiny Protestant community and share the Good News of Jesus in areas where many have never heard it.