For the first time in 6 months, the College Street Congregational College was alive with music and prayer on Easter Sunday.
The sound rang like never before. “It was just overwhelming, the sound,” said Pastor Ken White.
Perhaps, to those taking in Easter Sunday service at the College Street Congregational Church, the sound, the life back in the church on Easter was a metaphor for all it's been through.
“It's been a challenge,” said Aubrey Schoquette, College St. Congregational Church Council. “It's been an amazing experience actually. I remember standing outside in the parking lot watching the firemen go through the building."
The October arson fire damaged the church’s steeple beyond repair. Most of the church sustained water and smoke damage.
While under restoration, the church has been holding services at Temple Sinai in South Burlington.
But on this Christian day of resurrection, it was time to return home again.
“For it to be Easter and to just have a joyous holiday and to coincide with us coming back, it is almost like a new beginning for us,” said Schoquette.
“To be here on Easter is just so special,” said Jonathan Farrell, member of the Church’s Restoration Committee.
Sunday was Pastor Ken White's first service at the actual church. He began preaching in February at the Temple Sinai.
“It's a beautiful metaphor and it was nice because I didn't even have to talk about the building very much in the service because it was all around us,” explained Pastor Ken White.
His first interview for the job was just 3 days before the fire.
“We knew there was something special about the fit and the way I saw the congregation react to the fire, come together and declare that we are the church. This building is not the church. It's a wonderful gift but it's not us. I knew that it was a good place for me to be,” said Pastor White.
The next step for the church is replacing the steeple, hopefully, by next Easter.
But for now, it's time to reflect on the generosity of others and celebrate how far they've come.
“It's beyond words. It seemed like an unattainable goal at some points, especially back in October, we just didn't know what to expect,” said Jonathan Farrell.
34-year old Alaiksandr Bychkou was convicted in December for setting the fire and was deported back to Belarus.
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