Development Beat: St. Mary’s Monday

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Monday, August 15, 2016

Two months and two days after signing the construction contract for a new educational and exercise facility, the St. Mary Coptic Orthodox Church in Northwest Raleigh received permits to begin work on the structure.

St. Mary's Coptic Orthodox Church

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St. Mary’s Coptic Orthodox Church

We first reported on plans for this facility back in December 2015, when a residential demolition caught our eye for some reason. In order to make way for the new building, the Church needed to tear down a total of five surrounding single-family structures.

The demolition was wrapped up around March of this year, and three months later, according to the Church’s website, “On Wednesday June 8th, 2016, after the Liturgy, Father Misaeil signed the contract to officially start construction on the new Church building.”

That contract for the $2.8 million project was apparently signed with a company by the name of Accu-Steel, which is listed as the project’s general contractor. Accu-Steel will be assisted by a number of subcontractors, including Dodson & Associates handling the electrical, Airmakers Hearing handlingHVAC and Flow-Rite doing the plumbing.

The new 28,557 square-foot structure is described on the permits as a building that will include a gymnasium and classrooms for the existing sanctuary building. It’s categorized as “Non-Separated Mixed-Use.”

The church’s website has some information about the project and its various phases, but there’s not a whole lot of specific details available about the building itself beyond what was on the permits. There was a YouTube video titled “New Church Building” — but it wasn’t in English. Honestly, I have no idea what language this is, but as far as I can tell, Coptic Orthodox Christians speak “Coptic Egyptian.”

For the curious, “The Coptic Church is based on the teachings of Saint Mark who brought Christianity to Egypt during the reign of the Roman emperor Nero in the first century, a dozen of years after the Lord’s ascension.”

Nero, as in, played a fiddle while Rome burned? No wonder Saint Mark high-tailed it to Egypt. And yes, that was Mark, as in, the Gospel of Mark. Interestingly enough, the Coptic Church was the first major “split” in the Christian Church, and predates both the Roman-Catholic church and the Eastern Orthodox church.

Which makes sense, considering that Mark was their first bishop sometime around AD 42.

The Church is currently in the second week of the St. Mary’s Fast.

According to the Heritage of the Coptic Orthodox Church, “The fast of the Virgin Saint Mary, which is 15 days long, begins on the first day of the Coptic month of Mesori. It ends on the sixteenth day of the month, when the Coptic Church celebrates the assumption of the body of the Virgin that was carried by the angels.”

“This fast is one of the most beloved fasts by the lay people, to the extent that one can claim that the lay people enforced the fast on the church, being that it never recognized as an official fast prior to the thirteenth century.”

It’s impressive that a church dating back more than nineteen centuries old is in a position to be buying up and tearing down properties to make way for an expanded worship center, but I guess when you’ve got Mark the Apostle on your side, anything is possible. As if that wasn’t enough, the sketchup concept pictures for the new building were blessed by none other than His Holiness Pope Tawadros II. You can view a gallery of them below.