When a church in British Columbia in Canada began to burn down due to an arson attack, its members decided to forgive rather than hold them to charges.
On July 19th, Steven Faltas says he received a call at 3:30 that St George Coptic Orthodox Church, where he served as a board member, had been lit on fire. Within an hour, the entire building had burnt down.
"The street was completely closed, and there were approximately four or five fire trucks all fighting the blaze," Faltas told CBN News. "The scene was quite traumatic, surreal, to be honest."
This attack was one of several recent arson attacks in Canada, where unknown assailants had burnt down at least 45 Canadian churches. The attacks appear to have been provoked by discovering unmarked graves with 1,000 indigenous children on the lands of church and state-funded residential schools.
"It's tragic that churches are being caught in the crossfire of a historically long and difficult process, a political process, that we as an Orthodox community hasn't been involved with," Faltas contended.
However, he did not feel anger toward the arsonists: "The only thing that we can say to those perpetrators is that, as Christian believers, we forgive you," Faltas told CBN News.
"We obviously would love to have our church still standing, but at the same time, we are strong believers, and although today may be a day of mourning, God will provide, and tomorrow will be a day of joy."
Father Bisenty Gerges, the parish priest of St. George, noted in a pre-written statement that "While we are in shock and devastated by the loss, we hold firm to the belief that a church is far more than a building, and we will come together as a community to rebuild." The church has since started a donation campaign to begin raising funds for their church.