Sad day for Australia’s Copts – Sydenham Church demolished as NSW Government ignores pleas

Sydenham 26.05.17 demolition complete

26 May 2017 – The Inner-West Council completed it’s demolition of the former St Mary and St Mina Coptic Orthodox Church at Sydenham, Sydney. 

The Church, formerly located at 24 Railway Road, Sydenham, was a Methodist church built in 1884, and purchased by the Coptic community in 1969, through the authorisation of the late canonised Pope Kyrillos VI, to be the first Coptic Orthodox Church in history to be purchased outside of the Nile Valley. Coptic churches throughout Australia were established through this site. Sydenham was the home of Australia’s Coptic migrant pioneers and a hub for the Egyptian community. Thousands were baptised, married and buried at Sydenham.
The congregation at Sydenham was forced to relocate to Bexley in 2001 as part of a Federal Government acquisition program and  the church was to remain as a heritage site. The council received $2.1 Million in Federal funds for the upkeep of the area.
The Diocese of Sydney entered into protracted negotiations and eventually pulled the plug on their final expression of interest in 2015 after railing to reach suitable terms. The Australian Coptic Heritage and Community Services (ACHCS) was formed almost immediately after to try to salvage and restore the church so that it can be listed as a State Heritage site. The community rallied behind ACHCS and raised enough commitments to carry out the work required on the property. ACHCS succeeded in stopping demolition in December 2015.
Unfortunately, the NSW State Government ignored recent pleas to intervene to stop the demolition and refused to list the property on the NSW State Heritage register. ACHCS will be issuing a statement in coming days.
This was a sad day for many many Copts throughout Australia.

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