A Canadian congregation, whose church building was recently burned down in an arson attack, has raised over $700,000 to rebuild their church building.
As Christian Headlines previously reported, St. George Coptic Orthodox Church of Surrey, British Columbia, was set ablaze on July 19. The strike was just one in a string of arson attacks on Canadian churches in recent months.
"This nearly 70-year-old building was much more than just a building," the church's website said following the attack. "Our Church brought together a diverse congregation of Coptic, Eritrean, Ethiopian, Iraqi and Lebanese Orthodox believers."
Following the incident, the congregation held services at the nearby St. Joseph The Damascene Antiochian Orthodox Church, though they were still looking for a facility large enough to do Sunday school with approximately 200 children.
The congregation soon launched an online fundraiser to rebuild the church's building on its website. According to Steve Faltas, a board member at St. George, more than $700,000 has been raised since the fire.
While he described the amount as a "huge blessing," Faltas noted that it's "still very short from the millions we will need if we want to rebuild what we had."
"The building was very old but quite large and provided space for over 400 families who attended a variety of regular services offered nearly every night of the week," he told The Christian Post.
"We have insurance, but given the age and value of the building, the amount that will be covered will be much less than what it will cost us to rebuild," he continued. "So, we are urging anyone and everyone who is able to make a contribution to our rebuilding efforts [to do so]. We would greatly appreciate it."
The string of church arson attacks comes after mass graves holding the remains of indigenous children were discovered in the locations of former government and church-run residential schools used to assimilate indigenous youth in Canada.
Faltas, however, said that St. George never participated in the residential school program, adding that it would "be a tremendous tragedy if the church was confirmed to have been burned down as retribution for the travesty that took place at those residential schools many years ago."
He also pointed out that an unknown party attempted to set the church on fire five days earlier, lamenting that "no place of worship is currently safe in Canada."
"Places of worship are currently under attack nationally and will continue to be until there is a political solution to the narrative," Faltas said. "We urge the Canadian Government to invest the money and effort required to ensure places of worship and their congregants [are] safe and to assist in the rebuilding process."
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Photo courtesy: Max Kukurudziak/Unsplash
Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer and content creator. He is a contributing writer for Christian Headlines and the host of the For Your Soul Podcast, a podcast devoted to sound doctrine and biblical truth. He holds a Masters of Divinity from Alliance Theological Seminary.