St Denys School in Murree is different from Murree Christian School, which continues as a school for ex-pat children.
St. Denys is at the top of the hill in Murree itself, next to the reservoirs. It has long provided a boarding facility for girls from across the country to receive a good standard of education. When I lived in Hyderabad, 1000 miles from Murree, I was surprised to find that a Muslim family from down the road sent their daughter to the school. It shows the widespread appeal and reputation of the school. In fact, I understand that traditionally nearly all the girls have been Muslims. It was a fine colonial-era building that had been steadily developed over the years. In the past USPG and occasionally CMS have helped provide staff at the school, but it has been competently run and staffed by the church for a great many years.
Part of the tragedy of the fire is that a symbol of Christian service in the region has been destroyed – service that continued through different political environments and that did not select on grounds of religion or race. Bishop Alexander has stated that the school will be rebuilt; the Lahore Diocese commitment to serve the people in the name of Christ will continue. The country needs that commitment to non-discriminatory service as it faces the challenge of sectarianism.
The shock of the incident and the loss of personal possessions, particularly of sentimental value, will be a great blow to many who lived, studied and worked there. The loss of a prestigious building has been a shock to people in the Christian community across the country. They have been expressing their grief in different ways.
We do need to pray for all affected by this loss at this very tense period in the history of Pakistan.