Sunday, 6 January 2016
Australian Coptic Heritage & Community Services (ACHCS) representing the Australian Coptic Community; has won the first battle toward preserving the first Coptic Orthodox Church, purchased outside of Egypt and the Nile Valley by His Holiness the late St Pope Cyril (Kyrillos) IV (10 May 1959 – 9 March 1971). Marrickville Council scheduled the historic building at 24A Railway Rd Sydenham, for demolition in the second week of January 2016.
ACHCS committee members and volunteers have been working day and night since media reports surfaced in late October 2015 confirming that the historic premises at Sydenham will be demolished. Our activities peaked on 6 December 2015, when ACHCS organised an on-site prayer vigil attended by HG Bishop Daniel, clergy, Copts, Sydenham locals and Members of Parliament.
ACHCS forwarded strong submissions to the Heritage Council of NSW and to Heritage Minister, the Hon. Mark Speakman; who granted an Interim Heritage Order (IHO) on 22 December 2015. The IHO prohibits demolition in the interim and is in force for a period of eight (8) months, ending on 22 August 2016. This is to allow expert assessment of the building for qualification for state heritage registration and listing.
First and foremost, our gratitude is given to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We also thank their grace, the Bishops that have supported us in our mission including HG Bishop Daniel (Bishop, Coptic Orthodox Church, Diocese of Sydney and Affiliated regions), HG Bishop Suriel, (Diocese of Melbourne and Affiliated regions) HG Bishop Daniel (Bishop and Abbott of St. Shenouda Monastery, Sydney) and HG Bishop Angelos, (General Bishop United Kingdom).
We would like to thank all Ministers and Members of Parliament who pro-actively supported our cause including Mr. Craig Kelly MP, The Hon. Rev Nile MLC, Police Commissioner Nick Kaldas, Mr. Edmond Atalla MP, Mr. Laurie Ferguson MP, Mr. Nick Varvaris MP, Hon. David Clark MLC, Deputy Councilor Morris Hanna, Councilor Paul Sedrak, Councilor Lydia Sedrak and Mr. Graham Quint of the National Trust of Australia.
Australian Coptic Media outlets played a crucial role in assisting with disseminating our message to the community especially Aghapy TV, CYC and El Horreya TV. Thank you also to professional writer, Peter Olive, and the Inner West Local Newspaper for covering the story and raising awareness with the local Marrickville LGA.
A big thank you goes out to members of the Australian Coptic Movement Association (ACM) who have been assisting us from the beginning with their expertise and contacts.
Most importantly we thank all members and friends of the Coptic Community in Australia and abroad for all contributions large and small, without each and every single member we would not have achieved this important goal.
Australian Coptic Heritage & Community Services will work closely with The National Trust of Australia, the Heritage Council of NSW and the Australian Coptic community nationwide, to meet State Heritage criteria for permanent listing on the State Heritage Register; which will ensure ongoing protection and preservation of the first Coptic Church in Australia.
Strategies for adaptive re-purpose must be established and the resources to do so must be collated. Without financial resourcing, and services offered, it will prove difficult to preserve this icon of Coptic Heritage into the future, for the generations to come.
We welcome all suggestions, thoughts, knowledge, expertise and contributions large and small, of any kind as we seek to move forward together in unity.
ACHCS management and volunteers would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a New Year filled with the peace and joy of the Christmas season.
Ms. Hanan Ghabour JP
Australian Coptic Heritage & Community Services LTD (ACHCS)
Phone: 0479 042 733