On July 19, the 48th of now 53 churches to be burned or vandalized in Canada in just under a month was destroyed by fire, leaving its Christian community devastated.
The RCMP have officially labelled the burning of St. George Coptic Orthodox Church in Surrey, B.C. as suspicious. But given the recent spree of church burnings across the country, and the fact that there was already an attempted arson that occurred at this church just days before the fatal fire, this is likely to be another hate-motivated, act of terror directed against Christians in Canada.
On June 21, National Indigenous Peoples Day, and just two weeks after the first press release on the re-locating of an unmarked gravesite near Kamloops Indian Residential School, two churches in B.C. were suspiciously destroyed by fire on First Nations land.
Since then, 53 Christian places of worship have been destroyed or damaged in less than a month. B.C. has the highest number of churches to be burned with no sign of stopping, making the religious persecution of Christians in Canada a disgraceful reality in 2021.
But for the Christians, referred to as “Copts,” who attended St. George Coptic Orthodox Church, persevering in faith while being persecuted is nothing new.
Much of the church’s community consists of Copts, indigenous to Egypt, whose families fled to safety elsewhere after suffering great oppression and persecution during centuries of Islamic rule.
St. George Coptic Orthodox Church’s priests and board members released a statement describing their congregation as one that “brought together a diverse congregation of Coptic, Eritrean, Ethiopian, Iraqi, and Lebanese Orthodox believers,” and as a “haven where we practiced our ancient holy rites that have been preserved over centuries from our forefathers who keep the faith, defying great odds.”
In this report, I take you on the scene at the day the church was destroyed. You’ll hear some of the congregants’ initial reactions to what had just happened to their place of worship.
If you haven’t done so already, please sign and share our petition at SaveOurChurches.ca. We must ensure that those with the power to stop these attacks are doing everything they can to condemn these attacks on Christian places of worship appropriately, and protect the Christian communities at risk from them.
To donate to help the St. George Coptic Orthodox Church rebuild, go to [email protected].