Minnesota faith leaders pray for Turkish, Syrian earthquake victims during vigil

People in Minnesota are finding power in prayer as they think about their friends and family in Turkey and Syria.

"We are all of us here affected. Our Turkish and Syrian neighbors are especially affected," said Jessi LeClear-Vachta from the Minnesota Multifaith Network.

A prayer vigil Sunday afternoon at the Turkish American Cultural Center focused on sending positive thoughts to the other side of the world, while also recognizing people right here in Minnesota have lost someone they love.

"We believe that all the prayers and the good wishes – they reach the victims and the survivors of the earthquake. And also it is good for us. I feel less pain in my heart," said Tolga Misirli, the executive director of the Turkish American Society of Minnesota.

The Turkish American Society of Minnesota invited leaders from several different religious faiths to speak at the vigil. They prayed for the victims who've lost their lives and those still buried in the rubble.

"Comfort the people whose family members and friends have died as a result of these earthquakes. Draw close to them. Allow them to find comfort anew," said Shaykh Saifullah Muhammad from the NorthWest Islamic Community Center.

The natural disaster caused widespread destruction. Ahmet Turkmen, a member of the Turkish American Society of Minnesota, said his family has been directly affected.

"My father-in-law is under debris, and we are hoping that he will be saved. Although six days passed," he said. 

The non-profit also hosted a bake sale and held a donation drive Sunday. They will send the supplies to the Turkish consulate in Chicago, which will send them directly to Turkey. The proceeds from the bake sale will benefit relief efforts, with the hope that the communities can rebuild and survivors can begin new lives.

"Some of the cities, which were very lively, full of people and full of cars, are now under debris," Turkmen explained.

The society also extended prayers to rescue crews who are risking their own lives to help others amid the aftershocks.

"I'm sure the people in Turkey and Syria – they feel this," Misirli said.

He said the non-profit has gathered enough supplies, but it is still looking for monetary donations. You can donate to the Turkish American Society of Minnesota via Zelle at treasurer@tasmn.org or PayPal. The society also recommended donating to the relief organization EMBRACE RELIEF.