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Europe Central Area presidency offers statement of empathy, support following quake that devastates Turkey, Syria

Five of the Church’s women leaders also post thoughts of prayers and concerns for quake victims on their Instagram accounts

The Europe Central Area presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued a statement of empathy and support in response to the devastating earthquakes that hit Turkey and Syria on Monday, Feb. 6, and has resulted in more than 2,300 deaths at first count.

“We are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of many lives as a result of the earthquakes that hit Turkey and Syria,” the statement reads. “We express our love and support to the people of those countries as they deal with this terrible tragedy.

“Our prayers, and the prayers of Latter-day Saints across Europe, are with them as they begin to recover from this disaster. The Church is currently reaching out to other relief organizations, both globally and in-country, to offer assistance.”

A 7.8 magnitude earthquake shook central Turkey early Monday, Feb. 6, 2023. and was followed by a strong aftershock. | Associated Press graphic

Published the same day on ChurchofJesusChrist.org, the statement is signed by the three General Authority Seventies who comprise the Church’s Europe Central Area presidency — Elder Massimo De Feo, president, and his counselors Elder Erich W. Kopischke and Elder Rubén V. Alliaud.

Associated Press reported that the initial pre-dawn earthquake — registering a powerful 7.8 magnitude — sent damaging waves along wide swaths of Turkey and neighboring Syria.

At the time of the Church’s statement, the death toll already exceeded more than 2,300 people, with thousands more injured and hundreds still missing as the tremors toppled hundreds of buildings.

The Church’s Europe Central Area presidency — Elder Massimo De Feo, president, and his counselors Elder Erich W. Kopischke and Elder Rubén V. Alliaud. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Residents rushed outside in the rain and snow after the first quake, with major aftershocks continuing, including one nearly as strong as the first earthquake.

The quake was centered on Turkey’s southeastern province of Kahramanmaras and felt as far away as Cairo, Egypt, and Beirut, Lebanon.

The Church has a small presence in Turkey, with more than 570 Latter-day Saints comprising nine branches, which are overseen by the Bulgaria/Central Eurasian Mission.

Statements from other Church leaders

Relief Society General President Camille N. Johnson posted the following in a story on her Instagram page: “I add my prayers to yours on behalf of our brothers and sisters affected by the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria.” 

Her counselors also expressed their thoughts and concerns. Sister J. Anette Dennis, first counselor in the Relief Society general presidency, said she was heartbroken at the news and footage of so much destruction.

“We add our prayers to the millions of others being offered around the world for those who are suffering so much hardship and loss at this time,” Sister Dennis said. “We also pray for the safety of those involved in the rescue efforts. May the Lord lift, bless, and comfort all those affected.” 

Relief Society general presidency second counselor Sister Kristin M. Yee said her heart goes out to all those affected by the disaster, which has taken the lives of thousands and left so many grieving and worrying for their loved ones.

“I pray for them, for their comfort and for heaven’s help. I pray for the rescue crews and all those who are providing any and all aid that they may be strengthened in their capacities. May we all keep those affected in our hearts, prayers, and efforts,” Sister Yee said.

Young Women General President Bonnie H. Cordon said on her Instagram page that she continues to add her prayers to many being offered on behalf of the people of Turkey and Syria.

“For those who have lost so much — may you be carried by Christ in these dark hours and days. For those rushing to help — may you find added strength as you offer Christlike service,” President Cordon said.

Sister Amy A. Wright, first counselor in the Primary general presidency, shared her personal connection to the country of Turkey.

“Our young family visited Turkey many years ago and found a strong sense of community and people who love their families dearly,” Sister Wright said. “I pray for all those affected and many relief organizations as together they begin to rebuild and heal.” 

This article was updated on Feb. 7.

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