On March 4, the first divine service was held in the Turkish city of Kocaeli for the Russian-speaking believers of the Moscow Patriarchate living in the Marmara Sea region. The Divine Liturgy was celebrated by the priest responsible for the care of Russian-speaking believers in the territory of the Republic of Turkey, Georgy Sergeyev.
After the service, Fr. George held a meeting with parishioners, during which he spoke about the life of the Moscow Patriarchate communities in Turkey, as well as about the relations between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Patriarchate of Constantinople at the present time. During the conversation, further plans for the organization of regular services in the region were determined.
The city of Kocaeli, known from 712 BC under the name Astakos, and then from the III century BC as Nicomedia, was founded by the ancient Greeks. It is located in the north-west of Turkey, 120 kilometers from Istanbul on the coast of the Marmara Sea.
Nicomedia in the era of persecution became the place of martyrdom of many Christians. On April 23, 303, in Nicomedia, during the reign of Emperor Diocletian, after eight days of severe torment, the Holy Great Martyr George the Victorious was beheaded. The saints – the Great Martyr and healer Panteleimon, the Martyrs Trofim, Eusebius, Callista, Ermolai, Anthimos, Bishop Babila of Nicomedia and his 84 disciples - also suffered martyrdom. The total number of Christians affected is estimated at many thousands.
In the XIV century, the city was conquered by the Ottoman Turks and was renamed Izmit, and during the Turkish Republic - Kocaeli. Currently, about 3,000 Russian-speaking residents live in the city of almost two million.