The Hon. Mike Baird MP
Premier of NSW
52 Martin Place
Sydney NSW 2000
15 December 2015
Dear the Hon. Mr Baird,
The Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria – Diocese of Sydney &its Affiliated Regions, in collaboration with Australian Coptic Heritage & Community Services calls on your honorable self to take immediate action for the preservation of the former Coptic Orthodox Church building, located at 24A Railway Street, Sydenham. Marrickville Council has determined to demolish the subject Church, between December 2015 and January 2016, without preparedness for further discussions with the Coptic community.
The building holds great importance as a piece of Australian heritage, predating even our nation’s Federation. It stands as the only original memorial sites left standing in Sydenham, being built in 1884 by the Methodists, in honor of those brave men and women fought and died for Australia in WWI and WWII; demolition of this site would be deleting the honor they deserve.
There has been a loud outcry from the Coptic community as a whole, (approximately 200,000 Australia wide), once hearing of the imminent demolition of their heritage. The subject building is the first Church in the world to be purchased outside of Egypt and the Nile Valley, by the ancient Coptic Church, in order to flee centuries of religious persecution; this deems the site to be of invaluable significance to Australian Coptic people and Copts globally. The subject building symbolizes freedom from persecution; a religious, spiritual, social and cultural birthplace in a migrant country and a holy and sacred consecrated place. In addition, the subject Church building was instituted by H.H., Pope Cyril VI, 116th Patriarch of the Alexandria and the Sea of St Mark, who was canonised as a Saint in 2013; this kind
By demolishing this site, Marrickville Council is deleting the birth and settlement of the Australian Coptic people in Australia and eradicating international, national, state and local religious and cultural history. We have been made aware that Marrickville Council is preserving specific gutters surrounding the Church due to their heritage value and significance, yet have chosen to demolition this historical icon.
The subject site is listed as a local heritage item and further, meets all of the seven (7) criteria for the State Heritage register, exceeding the minimal requirement of meeting only two (2) criteria.
The Diocese of Sydney & its Affiliated Regions has submitted an expression of interest to Marrickville Council in November 2013, to acquire the former Coptic Orthodox Church building. We have spent tremendous time and efforts in negotiation with Marrickville Council for 19 Months, but we were faced by the unreasonable conditions posed by the Council for acquiring the Church. The Diocese of Sydney attended numerous meeting with Minsters and Government officials, seeking their support to get back the former Coptic Orthodox Church, with no conditions but we reached no successful conditions.
We urgently call on your Honourable self to stop this imminent demolition of Australian and of Coptic heritage, in Australia by saving St Mary and St Mina Coptic Church in Sydenham, Should any enquiries into this matter be required, please do not hesitate to contact Mr Hany Ghaly from the Diocese of Sydney & its Affiliated Regions and Hanan Ghabour from Australian Coptic Heritage & Community Services on 0479 042 733.
May the Lord bless you and bless all you are doing for our beloved Australia
HG Bishop Daniel
With the Grace of God
Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church
Diocese of Sydney and its Affiliated Regions.