Turkish Pastor Visits Fresno Church Asking Forgiveness From Armenians for Genocide

This month, Armenians worldwide will mark the 100th commemoration of the Armenian Genocide, where 1.5 million Armenians died at the hands of Ottoman Turks.

About 50,000 Armenians live in the Central Valley.

Thursday, a Turkish pastor visited the First Armenian Presbyterian Church in Fresno to apologize for the crimes his ancestors committed against Armenians.

It's an atrocity that the Turkish government denies.

And it was only about seven years that a Turkish pastor learned what happened when he visited the Armenian Genocide museum in Armenia's capital city.

"Ashamed--and I cried. I had goosebumps," he said.

He asked us not to identify him for security reasons. He's in the U.S. as a refugee fleeing religious persecution.

Thursday, he brought his message to the congregation of the First Armenian Presbyterian Church asking for forgiveness.

"I'm asking you, please forgive my nation. Please forgive my nation. They are guilty. They are guilty in God's eyes. They are guilty in your eyes," he said tearfully.

His message was received with tears and applause.

Pastor Greg Haroutunian of the First Armenian Presbyterian Church called it an important step in the healing process.

"Our people are hearing this for the first time. And some of them in their 80s are just overwhelmed. They can't believe this is happening. They're hearing it for the first time," Haroutunian said.

With 50,000 Armenians living in the Central Valley, no doubt, the message won't be received the same way by every person.

Church member Art Terzian said he shook the Turkish pastor's hand in appreciation.

"I admire him because he feels guilty, and he had nothing to do with it; that's his grandfathers," Terzian said.

More than 20 nations formally recognize the Armenian Genocide. In the U.S., 43 states do as well, but the U.S. as a whole has not.

Last month, Congressman David Valadao introduced a resolution to formally recognize the Armenian Genocide.




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