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Police are treating the New Year's Day fire in St John the Evangelist church as arson. It was preceded by a campaign of misogynistic harrassment of the vicar, Rev Julie Coleman. Repairs and redecoration will cost "tens of thousands" and the church may be out of use for six months.

interior of st johns church palmers green showing fire damage january 2024(Photo credit: St John's Church)

News about the police investigation and the harrassment incidents during services was reported by Enfield Dispatch this week. The Dispatch also reveals that St John's is losing income of around £2000 a week that normally comes from funerals and weddings, and that the fire destroyed the stock stored inside the church for its weekly foodbank, which provides help to more than 400 people.

St John's has provided Palmers Green Community with the following statement:

From the day the fire at St John’s was reported on New Year’s Day we have been in shock.  The main reason for this was learning that the fire was lit on purpose by an arsonist. 

St John’s Church was built in 1904 as the first parish church for Palmers Green. Its main aim was to serve the community and all of humanity in the name of Christ. To know that someone would set it on fire has been hard to bear. Then to learn that it has happened alongside a misogyny/hate crime directed at Rev Julie has gone beyond all comprehension.

The only way we have got through these past few weeks and with the knowledge St John’s may be closed for approximately 6 months is the supportive, kind and genuine people of Palmers Green and surrounding areas.

We thank you for the offer of help, trying to raise funds, a hot meal, hug and a kind word. Your encouragement has given us the strength to dust ourselves of from the haters and to keep going while praying for peace in the world we are all part off.

Many blessings,

Rev Julie.

Anyone who has information which could help officers is asked to contact police on 101 quoting CAD4733o1jan. You can also give information anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Links

Palmers Green church fire confirmed as arson (Enfield Dispatch 5 February 2024)

St John's moves services to parish centre after fire causes 'extensive damage' (Palmers Green Community 2 January 2024)

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PGC Webmaster posted a reply
Yesterday 00:06


A report about the arson attack in the Church Times contains both alarming and encouraging news.

It's alarming to read that:

The fire, started by the high altar, damaged stained-glass windows and artefacts, was hot enough to melt the candles, and had been nurtured like a barbecue


that if Rev Julie Coleman had gone into the church while it was ablaze, she would have been asphyxiated;

and that the police are investigating a seven-month campaign of misogyny and hate crime directed at the Vicar.

On the other hand, it's encouraging to read that Muslim women from Afghanistan have made her a new chasuble and a Roman Catholic priest has bought her new altar linen.
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