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St John the Evangelist church, a refuge for Christians during the American landing in Casablanca

St John the Evangelist church is one of the most authentic places of worship in Casablanca. Built in 1906, the church established to cater to the English-speaking christian community, has played a crucial role during the Second World War in Casablanca especially during the Anglo-American landing. Details.

Saint John the Evangelist church in Casablanca./Ph. Mehdi Moussahim. Yabiladi
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In one of Casablanca's busiest streets stands Saint John the Evangelist Anglican church, known since its establishment as the British church in the Kingdom of Morocco. During a visit organized by the American Embassy and the Moroccan Ministry of Tourism, Yabiladi had the chance to lay foot in this ancient yet active place of worship.

Celebrating co-existence in Morocco's economic capital, discovering the history of this church was a must for the tour's organizers. Right next to the Hyatt Regency Hotel at Rue Guej, the church was built outside of the Medina's ancient walls. According to its guide brochure handed over to Yabiladi during the visit, the idea of building an English church in the city of Casablanca takes us back 113 years ago. «In 1904 members of the British community in Casablanca came together to plan what would become St John the Evangelist church», said the same introductory document.

«The site chosen was in the grounds of the British expatriate cemetery which had been acquired forty years earlier».

A year later, Bruce Maclean, the British Consul in Casablanca at the time ordered an architectural firm to lay the foundation stone of the church on the 12th of May 1905. By the summer of 1906, the church was ready and five years later, it was consecrated.

Ph. Mehdi Moussahim. YabiladiPh. Mehdi Moussahim. Yabiladi

Although the church that hosted the British community present at the time in the city of Casablanca, had a promising beginning, it had actually been through a lot. Based on the presentation delivered by Rev Canon Dr. Medhat Sabry, present during the visit, «in early August 1907 the church was pillaged and narrowly escaped destruction». He explained that Er Rehali family that was taking care of the worship place were abducted and held until a ransom was paid by the church. Later on the first chaplains appointed to serve at the church died shortly after their arrival.

Many years later, the church which was managed by seasonal and part-time chaplains finally had one working full-time. «In 1934, Rev GFB Morris was appointed, he was succeeded by Rev. Cecil Green who served until 1983», said the same source.

Ph. Mehdi Moussahim. YabiladiPh. Mehdi Moussahim. Yabiladi

The church's role during WWII

St John the Evangelist church, however, holds a historical value in the city as it served as a refuge for those who landed in Morocco during World War II. Here we are talking about the famous Anglo-American landing that happened in 1942 in Casablanca. «General George S. Paton and other military regularly attended services», recalled the same source.

«Recognizing the importance of St Johns to the troops, the General donated a finely made oak pulpit in memory of troops who died in defense of the city ; his widow later donated the communion table in his memory».

Indeed, the church was there to embrace and serve the English-speaking expatriates living in Casablanca. The worship place that is also a resting room for a number of Christian people is a wonderful place to visit. With its Western architecture and stone walls the church has a welcoming vibe to it. Perfectly crafted from the inside as from the outside, it contains a lectron, where the Bible is read from, Pews and Altar rail.

Ph. Mehdi Moussahim. YabiladiPh. Mehdi Moussahim. Yabiladi

With boards commemorating dear ones all over its walls, the room has multiple windows nicely decorated with colored glass symbolizing Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary. The church's vicinity, a beautiful garden with flowers are put on the graves of British expatriates who once lived in Morocco.
With all the history, St John the Evangelist church now is still open for those who are willing to pray in one of the most authentic churches in the city.

Although, it is not used for burial, funerals are held in the church, as well as weddings and other ceremonies. Serving the Christian community in Casablanca, the church provides Bible teaching classes and other programs such as baptism, confirmation classes and prayer services. It also has a busy schedule, receiving visitors from Monday to Friday starting from 9 am to 1 pm.