A Church In Istanbul

Lost on the narrow streets of Istanbul in search of a church, he was sure he'd miss the service.

By Garrett W. Sheldon, Big Stone Gap, Virginia

As appeared in

While on a business trip to Istanbul, Turkey, I was looking for a Sunday worship service to attend. In this predominantly Muslim city, the only Protestant church I could find was an English one in the oldest part of town. The hotel clerk said it had a 10 a.m. service and wrote down the church's name in Turkish, telling me to give the note to my cab driver.

But the cab did not stop at a church. The driver let me out at a street corner, pointed vaguely and drove off. In a matter of minutes I was hopelessly lost. Wandering through narrow, congested streets, past food stalls and vendors selling spices and multicolored rugs, I asked several people where the church was. But no one knew.

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After an hour, I was sure I had missed the service, but I kept looking. Still later, I went to the British consulate to ask directions. At least I'll be able to see the church building, I thought.

Finally, I discovered the quaint neo-Gothic church hidden on a back street. A young minister was at the door shaking hands with people.

"I apologize for being so late," I said to him. "No apologies necessary," he answered. "The time of the service has been changed to 10:45."

I looked at my watch. "But I'm still an hour late."

"No. This is the weekend we go off daylight saving," he said. "You're right on time."

I smiled as I walked into the sanctuary just as the opening hymn was sung.

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