After seeing it burnt down, a church in Surrey, British Columbia, has raised more than $700,000 to rebuild its campus.
On July 19th, St. George Coptic Orthodox Church of Surrey, British Columbia, was set ablaze by an unknown arsonist. St. George spokesperson Steve Faltas was one of the first people on-site when the fire started. "I rushed to the site to find the church still engulfed in flames, with firefighters still trying to put out the fire in the last remaining areas that were still standing. They had the street closed off with four to five fire trucks all dousing the flames with water, but it was obvious that the damage had already been done." It was a moment that stung for the church.
The church did not stop organizing services. Instead, they moved temporarily into a nearby church, St. Joseph The Damascene Antiochian Orthodox Church. Days after the original attack, the church began an online fundraiser to rebuild the church's structure.
In the days since the church has raised more than $700,000 in total. Faltas told the Christian Post that while they are thankful for the huge blessing poured out in support, the funding is still "still very short from the millions we will need if we want to rebuild what we had." Faltas says that the church was nearly 70 years old and provided space for more than 400 families regularly.
The arson attack on St. George is one of many in the last few months. While the assailants have not been identified, experts believe that the attacks were inspired by the recent discovery of mass graves on former church properties that contained more than 1000 indigenous children. While St George's did not have any direct involvement with the residential program that caused these deaths, Faltas told the Post 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."