The Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch, which belongs to the Oriental Orthodox Churches, dates back to one of the first early Christian communities founded in Antioch, today's Antakya. The apostle Peter is considered the first bishop of Antioch; the Syrian Orthodox Patriarch, who resides in Damascus, stands in uninterrupted apostolic succession with him. The Patriarch of the Syrian Orthodox Church, Ignatius Afrem II. has about 40 dioceses worldwide, some of them in the autonomous Syrian Orthodox Church in Malankara, India. The liturgy, which is held in the Aramaic language, follows the Western Syrian rite. While the existence of the church is threatened in its former home countries, the Syrian Orthodox Church enjoys a vibrant church life in the worldwide diaspora. The approximately 100,000 Syrian Orthodox Christians living in Germany are organized in about 60 parishes and are led by Archbishop Mattias Nayis at the monastery in Warburg. The Syrian Orthodox Church is represented in all ecumenical committees and maintains intensive contacts with its sister churches. Bishop Dr. Hanna Aydin is responsible for ecumenical affairs in Germany

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