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Exploring the oldest church in the world

Gentle sea breezes filled with the scent of salt air drift across the ancient port city of Aqaba in Jordan as the sun set low in the sky. The gleeful screams of playing children rise from the ruins of what is believed to be the world’s oldest intentionally built church, striking a curious contrast between the past and the present.

Aqaba, called Elath and Aila in ancient times, located on the northeastern tip of the Red Sea on the Gulf of Aqaba, east of the Sinai Peninsula and west of the Arabian mainland, has been an important port city for thousands of years. It is mentioned in 1 Kings 9:27, “King Solomon also built a fleet at Ezion-geber, which is near Elath on the shore of the Red Sea in the land of Edom.” The Queen of Sheba also visited the area to the court of King Solomon around the 10th century BC. But its place in the evolution of the early Christian church is only recently being discovered…

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