Pastor wakes up to church on fire: evangelical church in France faces arson attack

The Armenian Evangelical Church of Alfortville was the victim of an arson attack early on Sunday morning.Facebook

An evangelical church in France has been the victim of an arson attack, the second incident against the church in just over a week.

Flames erupted in the Armenian Evangelical Church of Alfortville, near Paris, on Sunday at 6am, according to Evangelical Focus.

The fire woke up the church's pastor Gilbert Léonian and his wife, who reside on the first floor of the building. Gilbert said he was 'shocked' because the couple were sleeping, but they escaped safely and unharmed.

A trash can had been placed in front of the church and set alight. Firefighters arrived in time to halt the fire from destroying the building. Images of the charred building can be seen below.

Eight days prior, stones were thrown at the church building, and its telephone system was damaged.

Pastor Léonian told the newspaper Le Parisien that the attacks were 'a surprise in such a quiet neighbourhood', but said that though concerning, they 'do not make us feel angry'. The church community, which numbers about 30, didn't cancel its Sunday service but held it in a different room of the church.

The mayor of Alfortville, Luc Carvounas condemned the attack.

The National Council of Evangelicals in France also offered their 'compassion and prayers' to the church, and emphasised the importance of 'freedom of speech and worship'.

The attack is the third arson incident on an evangelical church in France in 12 months. In May and July 2016, two Assemblies of God churches were victims of arson episodes.