ISTANBUL — The Love Table for the 2023-24 academic year of the Hrant Dink School, located at the Armenian Evangelical Church of Gedikpaşa, was held on Sunday, February 4, 2024, at the Cathedral of the Mother Church.  The annual event, which benefits the Hrant Dink School, already has a 20-year life in the History of the Istanbul Armenians.

The entire family of the School, including Trustee Mr. and Mrs. Arto and Talar Horozoğlu, Rev. Kirkor Ağabaloğlu, Pastor of the Armenian Evangelical Church of Gedikpaşa, the Principal, teaching staff, officials, students, and parents gathered at the Cathedral with the call of unity while the bells of the Church were ringing and calling all to attend the Annual Madağorhnutyun (blessing of sacrificial meal) followed by the Love Table for the School, held at the Hall of the Church..

During the Love Table event, Archbishop Sahag II Mashalian, Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople, said: “The mission of Hrant Dink School is unique among the other 16 Armenian Schools in Istanbul because it implements the Republic of Armenia’s Educational Curriculum and prepares Armenian students from the Motherland living in Istanbul to further their Armenian education in Armenia. These children are our children; therefore, we are obliged to prepare a future for them.”

“Probably, there is no such school neither in France nor America, but there is one in Istanbul. So, this testifies to the educational traditions of our Istanbul Armenians,” he continued. “On my side sitting I have Father Vartan representing the Armenian Catholic community, on the other side Rev. Ağabaloğlu representing the Armenian Evangelical Community, and I, as the Patriarch, representing our Armenian Apostolic community. We are all one, we are Armenians, we have the same destiny, we serve the same nation, therefore the existing difference between our churches and traditions does not affect that we implement our national plans together on this public denominator.”

“This school is unique because the impossible became possible. I remember the founder-director of the School Mrs. Heriknaz Avagyan. When I was the Pastor of Gedikpaşa Church, she came to me and asked for a room, but it was not easy to provide a room for a school. The District Council was thinking about the legal issues. However, the Armenian Evangelical Church of Gedikpaşa was courageous enough to open its doors because that Church has a brave Pastor, Rev. Kirkor Ağabaloğlu.”

“I heartily encourage and congratulate his courage, because there are fateful moments where sometimes one should not turn to the mind, but to the heart. Therefore, he did so and opened an era for himself, for the Armenian Evangelical Community and for the Church of Gedikpaşa, and until today this holy work continues successfully. But we are here as a community, as a Patriarchate to support the School from the start of the work, because we know that this work is not the work of this or that person.”

“Benefactors of the Armenian Community in Istanbul have found representatives in Arto and Talar Horozoğlu, who participated in this crazy case and have reached out to protect our children with their guardianship. Twenty years have passed since the establishment of the School and God only knows how the future will be. With faith, we will leave this important task in His hands.”

While donations were being collected, the Hrant Dink School students presented a special program of songs and recitations which radiated their longing for their Motherland. With the innocence of children and teenagers, they expressed the dreams they had for their “small in area but rich in history” Homeland. “A piece of Armenia”  ̶  a safe, secure, prosperous country  ̶  is the dream desired by the children and young people and it was weaved into their speeches. At the conclusion of the program, a video was shown in which the history of the School was presented through the eyes of the students, from kindergarten to the 9th grade.

And it is no coincidence that Rev. Kirkor Ağabaloğlu mentioned in his remarks that the Hrant Dink School is like a small Armenia, where for almost 20 years, students have enjoyed the breath of Armenia under the roof of the School and the Church every day.

“A heroic story of Armenian Evangelical courage from Camp Armen to Hrant Dink School” said Zaven Khanjian, AMAA Executive Director/CEO.

(Translated into English by Louisa Janbazian from the original text written in Armenian by Lilit Poghosyan, Administrator and Teacher at Hrant Dink School)

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