With reporting from Chantelle D’mello
Editor’s note: The original version of this story misquoted ECAQ chairman Beda Robles describing his reaction to the presence of dignitaries for the official groundbreaking. The erroneous statement has been removed.
Advancing on a years-long plan to build their own worship space in Qatar, the Evangelical Churches Alliance Qatar (ECAQ) has finally broken ground on the project.
Speaking to Doha News, ECAQ’s chairman Beda Robles said:
“I’m so much thankful for God, and glad…This is what we’ve been waiting for, to have this groundbreaking. We are so thankful to the Emir and the government for their help, and everybody is so glad to have this happen.”
According to the Gulf Times, actual construction of the three-story building will begin in about a year, after the design and tendering stage is completed.
ECAQ has approximately 1,200 members who hail primarily from the Philippines, Nigeria, Kenya, India, Indonesia and Malaysia.
The 28-year-old organization has historically held worship sessions in villas and other private homes.
Though it secured a lease contract for the land in 2013, ECAQ had to wait until this summer to begin fundraising for the QR100 million (US$27.47 million) church as it awaited government approvals.
Speaking to Doha News in July, Robles said:
“We have a small amount collected now, and we’re hoping to get a start on the ground-breaking with that. As for the other money, we’re going to have huge fundraising efforts to bring in donations, and we’re also asking help from other churches in Doha, in the region, and around the world,” he said.
The building is expected to take around three years to complete, he added.
Qatar’s first church in more than century opened in 2008, and has been growing steadily since then.
Over the summer, the complex introduced new stringent security measures following a government directive to boost precautions at hotels, malls and other popular spots around Qatar.
According to US State Department’s most recent report on religious freedom, Qatar has granted legal status to the Catholic, Anglican, Greek Orthodox, Syrian Orthodox, Coptic, Lebanese Maronite, Filipino Evangelical and Indian Christian churches.
Smaller Christian groups are required to worship under the patronage of one of the eight recognized denominations.