Christians from Kayseri in Turkey request prayer about ongoing legal issues as they try to obtain a recognised place of worship.
Kayseri, a city in central Anatolia, has a growing Christian community of between 1,500 and 2,000 people according to Muammer Karakaya, Pastor of the Kayseri Protestant Church. Many of these are Iranian, Syrian and Iraqi refugees, but there is also a sizeable Turkish-speaking congregation.
At present the Christians in Kayseri meet in about seven different rented facilities, which are not officially recognised places of worship.
Since 2007 Pastor Muammer has been trying to get permission for the Christian congregations to use Meryem Ana Church, an old Armenian building that has not been used for worship since the foundation of the Republic of Turkey in 1923. However the municipality, which now controls the building, has refused to grant the request and has recently leased the church to a sports club for 20 years.
The right of Christians to establish legal places of worship in Turkey is a long-standing issue. As part of a Harmonization Package with the European Union in 2003, new zoning laws were intended to provide equal access and procedures for all recognised faith groups by replacing the word “mosque” with the words “place of worship”. In reality, Christians in Turkey continue to face discrimination and violation of their rights in the way this regulation is interpreted and applied.
When he was still Prime Minister and on an official visit to Germany, President Tayyip Erdoğan gave assurances that whoever had need of a church in Turkey could come to him and he promised to make every effort to grant Christians the same religious rights as Muslims. 
However, the 2015 Report on Human Rights Violations by the Association of Protestant Churches notes: “… apart from some exceptions, Christian congregations are prevented from using historical church buildings for Sunday services or holiday celebrations; these buildings are held by government institutions and being used for purposes other than as a church.” 
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Christians in Kayseri request prayer that:
a. the municipality in Kayseri will recognise the right of Christians to meet in a legally recognised place of worship and provide Meryem Ana Church or another suitable property for that purpose
b. God will give wisdom and discernment to Pastor Muammer and other church leaders to establish helpful relations with local authorities
c. legislation will be adopted that will grant equality before the law and protection against discrimination on the grounds of religion