BURLINGTON, Vt. - It's been almost two months since an arsonist severely damaged a downtown Burlington church and clean up is finally complete.
On October 23rd, the church bells stopped ringing at the College Street Congregational Church. But a lot of work has been done since then to rebuild the almost 150 year old building.
"It was wooden and quite attractive,” said Debbie Ingram, Chair of the Church Reconstruction Committee, as she looks up at her damaged church steeple, "Shock and grief was my reaction and I think everybody's reaction in the congregation, and some anger too."
Police say 32-year old Aliaksandr Bychkou set the steeple atop the College Street Congregational Church on fire. He faces deportation to his native Belarus.
“The Church has been pretty seriously damaged. We're not able to worship here,” said Ingram.
More than 150 regular churchgoers have instead been going to Temple Sinai.Meanwhile, work at the church has been steady cleaning up not only fire damage to the steeple, but water and smoke damage throughout.
"We've just been through the cleanup phase and just cleaning it up was a massive undertaking,” said Ingram.
It more than $375,000 just for cleanup. Luckily for the church, it was all covered by insurance. The restoration process is set to begin immediately. Those costs are unknown.
"We're a faith community and, of course, we believe in the dying and rising theme and that's kind of what we're observing right now. We've been through the dying, we've got the cleanup done and now we're looking forward to the resurrection part,” said Ingram.
And continuing with that theme, Ingram hopes to have the church completely restored by Easter.