Rebirth of the albanian church — one of the mostancient churches in the christian world. Shirin Manafov

   The representatives of Kabilink region’s executive  committe, representatives of Caucasian Muslims, a Norwegian charitable organization and the public of the village Nidj on the 19th of May  celebrated an important step in the path towards the rebirth of the Independent Albanian Church – begining with the religious  services held in the restored church of  « Chotari ».

    Before the services, the initiators and partisipants of this celebrated event addressed the public in front of the building. The restoration of the Church  in Nidj, and the renewal of the services held in this building, are an event not just in the lives of Udin inhabitants of Nidj, but in the whole of Christian world as this is arestoration of one of the oldest churches in the Christian world – the Albanian Church. By the 2nd century, Christianity was being spread throughout Caucasian Albania by the                ‘Apostle’  Eliseus, who was anointed, according to Church lore, by the first Jerusalem partiarch, Apostle James.

    « We are present at an important event, the rebirth of the independent Albanian Church, the first Christian center in the Caucasus «, remarked the spokesman for the Albanian-Udin Christian public, Robert Mobili. « The Albanian Church appeared  and grew strong in the Caucasus  long before the appearance of the Armenian and Georgian Orthodox churches «.

     « We are present at the commencement of a historical  restoration of  justice, the Albanian church is once again giving services  in the ancient Udin language «, noted the representative for the Caucasian Muslim faith. « The importance of this act underscores the fact that, in Azerbaijan, all conditions have been creared to allow for representatives  of all confessions to perform religious services «.

    « This is a significant event in the lives of the Udin, whom fate has scattered all around the world «, said the Reresentative for  Udin culture and  history, M. Kochari.

« This Church, which hs already been active this year will, in the near future, become a center for the unification  of all Udins and all parishioners of the Albanian Christian Church in the Caucasus « . The Albanian Church, which was independent before 1836, at that time had many more arishioners than the Armenia Church.

      As soon as the Udin in this country, as well as in neighboring Georgia and Dagestan, learned of plans  to restore the Church in Nidj, their historic birthplace, they immediately began gathering  monetary funds. However, these funds were not sufficient and a Norwegian charitable organization came to our aid.

      In the name of all the inhabitants of the village of Nidj and all Udin, I present our thanks to the Norwegian charitable organization which sponsored te restoration of the Church.

     In his speech, the head of the Norwegian Charitable Organization, Terry Holmedahl, said that « the restoration  of  the temple in Nidj is not only an event in the lives of all Udin and a historical restoration of justice, but convincing evidence of the Government’s attention to the problem of minorities and a real contribution towards the creation of harmony and improved foreign relations with the Christian world «.

    The restoration of the Church in Nidj is the second most important project realared by  by the Norwegian  Charitable Organization. Three years ago this organization sponsored the restoration of a Church in the village Kish, where the museum of Caucasian Albania was formed.

    The whole population of Karabakh is well informed of the Albanian origins of the most important holy site in Karabakh, the Gandzar cathedral, build by the Albanian king Gasan Jalal.

    The  rebirth of the Albanian Church has dispelled the hopes of Azerbaijan’s enemies that a policy of discrimination against non-Muslim confession is being carried out.

    I would like to note that therestoration of the Albanian Church  is a result of policies initiated by Heydar Aliev. One of his first orders, after coming to power in 1993, was his declaration of protection and governmental support for minority peoples, languages, cultures, history and religions. This was the first document of its kindin the countries of the former Soviet Union. This act inspired the activists of the Udin education organization, Orion, and all future steps which the  Udin grouptook towards the restoration of the Albanian Independent   Church. They were given support by official authorities during the life of Heydar Aliev, as well as from the current President.

Foreseeable Politics

    Many of  those who participated in the program spoke of  the restoration of historical justice. What did they have in mind? The order given in 1836 to liquidate the independence of the Albanian Church played a tragic role in the fate of Albanian Christians . As an order to submit to the Armenian Orthodox Church was also issued, Albanian temples and the history of  Caucasian Albania and the parishionersof the Albanian Church in the Karabakh territory were, without fail, « Armenianized «. but this was not realized in the willful and independent village of Nidj, which for many decades held sacred the memory of ancient Albanian traditions, which served as evidance of their primary  sovereignty. One weighly argument for the primary  sovereignty of the Albanian Church was  found in a monastery. On the Sinai Mountain in Egipt, in a repository of  manuscripts, were found the Gospels ( Mathew, Luke and John ) as well as the collected writings of Peter, James and John in the Udin language. Albanian experts support the fact that the Gospels and books by the Prophets were reproduced in the Udin language. Nidj, with its deep roots in the history of Caucasian Albania and Azerbaijan as a continuation of the Caucasian rule is like a bone in the throat of Echmiadzin, who continues to pretend to total  power over the Caucasus Christian diocese.

     The next step in this well thought out project, entitled the rebirth of the Albanian Apostolic Independent Churches is already accomplished. Under the direction  of architects Gulchoxra Mamedova and Sabina Gajieva, an Albanian church in the Kym village of the Kakhslov region is being conserved and the restoration of an Albanian  Christian temple in the Orgysk region will soon begin.

                                                    By Shirin Manafov.  « Caspian Scene « . June 2007y..