Canada: Coptic Orthodox Church Destroyed in Surrey


The Church of Surrey, which was destroyed by fire, was subjected to an attempted arson last week

The cause of the burning is not determined yet; the St. George Coptic Orthodox Church in Siri was destroyed by a fire early Monday morning.

Worshipers and the community were shocked after an early morning fire destroyed St. George's Coptic Orthodox Church on Monday. The burning started at 3:30 a.m. at the church located at 13905108 Ave in the Wally neighborhood.

the Royal Canadian Police declared it was being treated as "suspicious." St. George's Coptic Orthodox Church was also the target of an attempted arson last Wednesday

In a statement, Archbishop Mina of the Coptic Orthodox Archdiocese of Mississauga, Vancouver, and Western Canada expressed his "enormous grief and pain" at the loss of the church. Still, she added: "We will not be deterred, and we will rebuild."

Calling on the authorities and the authorities to expedite the investigation, Prime Minister John Horgan said: "The timing of this fire ... raises many questions about what the authorities have done to protect our church, especially given the attempt by the same church last Wednesday."

Congregational member Nancy Khalil said she cried when her mother called her with the news this morning.

"The loss is heartbreaking, disappointing, and devastating for worshipers and the community," said Khalil, whose family helped build the destroyed sanctuary, along with dozens of hand-painted "priceless" icons.

Khalil expressed his disappointment that neither provincial nor federal leaders have yet talked about the fire. It hurts that I don't see any word from the government. I very much hope to at least get a statement from the prime minister condemning what is happening."

"We are the Copts, and they are a group of indigenous people in Egypt," said Khalil, whose family immigrated to Canada about 30 years ago. "We love the community and the country we live in."

The majority of Copts are Orthodox Christians, and they make up the most significant ethnic and religious minority in Egypt, a country that ranks 16th in the list of countries. Open 2021 World Watch of Nations due to its treatment of Christians.

In 1998, Pope Shenouda III visited the church to consecrate its altar, and in September 2014, Pope Tawadros II also visited to bless the icons, two significant moments for Khalil.

Worshipers served about 400 to 500 families and participated in several community outreach programs, including Hunger For Hope, which provided sandwiches and dinners to the homeless.

The building also houses the Junior Einsteins Academy, a licensed nursery school for 65 children between the ages of two and five. Brittney Dillon, the daycare owner, said she is working with licensing officials and community members to find alternative arrangements for the children.

"The loss is massive," said preschool mom Michelle Clark, whose daughter has attended since 2017. "The only wall still standing is the outside of the gym, where there is daycare space, and where there was Sunday school on weekends."

Anyone with information about a Monday morning fire, or attempted arson on July 14, should contact authorities.

In the July 14 attempt, the suspect is described as a Caucasian woman, 5'7 inches tall, with a heavy build and dark hair. She wore a black hoodie, a black tank top, black stockings with a flower print, and black slippers.

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