Hrant Dink School in Istanbul holds annual Love Table event

Hrant Dink School students and staff at the Cathedral of the Mother Church

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 school family, including trustees Arto and Talar Horozoğlu, pastor of the Armenian Evangelical Church of Gedikpaşa Rev. Kirkor Ağabaloğlu, the principal, teaching staff, officials, students and parents gathered at the cathedral with the call of unity while the bells of the church rang, calling all to attend the Annual Madağorhnutyun (blessing of sacrificial meal) followed by the Love Table, held at the church hall. 

The head table at the Hrant Dink School’s annual Love Table event

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. “Sitting by my side, 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,” he concluded.

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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 their dreams for a homeland “small in area but rich in history.” “A piece of Armenia” –  a safe, secure, prosperous country –  is the dream desired by the children and young people, and it was woven 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 ninth grade.

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 the Hrant Dink School)

Armenian Missionary Association of America
The Armenian Missionary Association of America (AMAA) was founded in 1918, in Worcester, MA, and incorporated as a non-profit charitable organization in 1920 in the State of New York. We are a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization. Our purpose is to serve the physical and spiritual needs of people everywhere, both at home and overseas. To fulfill this worldwide mission, we maintain a range of educational, evangelistic, relief, social service, church and child care ministries in 24 countries around the world.

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