by MENELAOS HADJICOSTIS
Posted: 04/19/2014 8:19 am EDT Updated: 04/19/2014 8:59 am EDT
FAMAGUSTA, Cyprus (AP) — An unexpected moment during the Good Friday service in a long-abandoned church in Cyprus' breakaway north illustrated how religion is helping to bring together Christian Greek Cypriots and Muslim Turkish Cypriots on this ethnically divided island.
It came when Turkish Cypriot Umit Inatci handed the key of the church of Agios Georgios Exorinos in the medieval center of Famagusta to the city's Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Vasilios, saying: "This is not gift, it's something that is surrendered to its owner."
Rapturous applause greeted the announcement by Inatci, who helped make possible the first Holy Week service at the 14th-century church in nearly 60 years.
Among the hundreds of faithful there was Mikis Lakatamitis, who was baptized at the church eight decades ago. Tears welled up in his eyes as worshippers lined up nearby to kiss an embroidered cloth depicting Christ's preparation for burial.