to Bishop David's blog. Here you can find news, information, articles and pictures about the Church of England Diocese in Europe. We have over 300 congregations or worship centres serving Anglican and (mostly) English-speaking people in Europe, Morocco, Turkey, Russia and some central Asian countries.

For official diocesan information please click the diocesan logo on the right.

Sunday, 23 June 2019

An historic day at St John the Evangelist, Casablanca

The Community Centre is opened by Fr Medhat, UK Ambassador Tom Reilly, Bishop David, HE Rachid Afirat, Governor of  Casablanca-Anfa, and Archbishop Cristobal Lopez
St John the Evangelist Church, Casablanca, is the oldest church in continuous use in the city. Consecrated in 1906, by the then Bishop of Sierra Leone, it has been the home to English speaking Christians in Morocco's largest city for over 100 years.

Fr Medhat greets HE Governor Rachid Afirat

In recent times, especially under the direction of its current Chaplain, the Revd Canon Dr Medhat Sabry, St John’s has grown significantly. Two packed church services are now held each Sunday. The community itself counts on people from at least 17 different nations around the world. St John's also hosts a Chinese congregation and a French speaking student congregation which both use the church each week.

Fr Medhat in 2016 began working with the parish in putting together an ambitious development project in two phases. Phase One included the construction of a community centre with facilities to serve the burgeoning migrant and refugee community in the city. The community centre includes classrooms where basic skills can be taught and training given, and a place for assistance with pastoral questions, counselling, documentation and other advice, and mutual support groups for the various sub-Saharan nationalities, as well as being a centre for the St John’s humanitarian outreach programme. It will also provide an office for the priest, new toilets, and space for the parish's own educational work with children and adults. 

On Friday 21 June, in a joyful civic occasion, the community centre was opened. Among the official guests were the Governor of Casablanca-Anfa, representing His Majesty King Mohammed VI, the UK Ambassador, the US Acting Head of Mission, a host of other diplomats, the Archbishop of Rabat, and several ecumenical dignitaries. Ribbon cutting, official speeches and a festive reception marked this, the conclusion of Phase One of the development project. 

Rebecca Boardman from USPG, (United Society Partners in the Gospel) which has been supporting the project, remarked on the significance of the community centre, in terms of the Church's ministry to those in need: "Within the perimeter walls of St John’s is a safe space for the many who are now finding themselves, either permanently displaced in Morocco, or among the thousands seeking a route eventually to Europe, to meet, and to have their needs addressed, in a country and city, where for many refugees and migrants, there are few such options".

The door to St John the Evangelist compound.

Mr Andrew MacDonald, US Acting Deputy Head of Mission signs the guest book
Fr Medhat greets the UK Ambassador, HE Thomas Reilly
Following the civic opening, a eucharist was celebrated in the church during which a procession was made to the community centre, (accompanied by African songs and drum), for it to be formally blessed. Archdeacon Geoff Johnston spoke of the vital witness of St John's and its impressive international and lively community. Canon Joanna Udal, who is currently serving as locum priest in Tangier, was also able to join us in Casablanca.


Phase Two, an expansion of the church building itself to double its seating capacity begins almost immediately. The total cost of the development project, (Phases One and Two) is about 5 million Moroccan Dirhams, (approximately £400,000) of which all but about 200,000 Dirhams remains to be raised. It has been an incredible cooperative effort by parishioners, partners such as USPG, and other individuals. But most of all it is due to the constant prayer and hard work on the ground by Fr Medhat and the parish lay leadership team which have brought us to this day. 

Laus Deo 

No comments:

Post a Comment