St. Anthony Coptic Orthodox Church in Maitland will undergo a major transformation starting later this year with construction of new church buildings bearing the Coptic religion's traditional architecture.
The Coptic church, which bought the property at 1185 N. Wymore Road in July 2011, plans to add several new buildings totaling nearly 28,000 square feet of covered space on the 2.39-acre site. The main building will be capped by a dome and two 59-foot-tall towers topped by crosses.
"If you research the Coptic style, you will see they all have a dome and two towers," Father Daoud Tawadrous, head clergyman at the church, told GrowthSpotter on Thursday. "Most of the Coptic churches are styled that way."
Maitland City Council approved the church's preliminary Develompent Plan and request to rezone the property from residential to planned development on July 24.
The next step is gaining final engineering and site plan approval for a new 300-seat, 7,388-square-foot sanctuary; a two-story, 19,601-square-foot multipurpose building; and an 802-square-foot administrative center. The existing 3,441-square-foot chapel will undergo significant renovations and be used as a smaller worship hall for weekday services, Tawadrous said.
Though the Maitland church has a growing congregation, that's not the main reason it is undertaking a major expansion. Tawadrous said the new buildings will enable the church to better accomplish its mission of serving its congregants as well as the surrounding community. The multipurpose building will provide more room for youth-oriented programs and a place for the kids to eat after services.
The church also operates a food bank and free health clinic open to needy families, regardless of faith.
"The main purpose of these buildings is to serve our children and the community too," Tawadrous said. "We have more than 70 families in the community that come to us."
The church's congregation consists of about 140 families, he added.
Church board member Jacob Nagib said that construction of the new buildings will be handled in phases to allow continued use of the existing church building and to minimize parking issues. Some smaller buildings on the site will be demolished.
Board members are working with several lending institutions on financing for the construction and renovations, said Nagib, who declined to name such lenders.
"We are planning to make the final call as to which building we should start with once we have our finances worked out and based on each building's cost," Nagib said.
Tawadrous said he expects construction to start in October or November. The church has yet to choose a general contractor.
"If the money is there and the donations are there, we will be able to finish everything earlier," the priest said. "Once we have a bank loan and everything is in front of us we will be able to finish all the phases together, hopefully in a year or a year and a half."
The Coptic Orthodox Church was founded in Alexandria, Egypt (Coptic means Egyptian), sometime between A.D. 41 and A.D. 62. The church's founder is believed to be John Mark, author of the Gospel of Mark, who brought Christianity to Egypt on a missionary trip.
The church later split from the main Christian church over differences about the essence of Jesus Christ. Estimates of the current population of the Coptic Church range from 10 million to 60 million members worldwide.