June 2, 2007
On May 4, 2006, the Charlottesville Church of Christ caught fire and nearly burned to the ground. It happened after a homeless man broke in and tried to cook some food on a stove.
On Saturday, just more than a year after the fire, the congregation reopened their doors with what they called their Celebration of Triumph.
"It feels great to be home and to fit into our space once again," said Rosemary Hayes, a member of the congregation.
"It made me stronger, it made me wiser, and it made me more determined," said Rufus Hayes, the pastor of the church. "I know that God can do anything."
But those at the Saturday afternoon reopening weren't just celebrating. They were also giving thanks.
"Everybody that came together to make this happen today, it's just phenomenal that in just one year's time, the building could be back and better than it was before," said Kimberly Hayes, who was visiting from New York.
Last spring, in the middle of the night, Chucky Hayes watched the church he grew up in nearly go up entirely in flames, but despite how difficult getting through the rebuilding process was, he said giving up was never an option.
"Seeing them put the roof on from the 2x4's to actually painting it, we got excited, just kept getting excited," said Chucky Hayes, the pastor's grandson.
For the pastor's wife, the rebuilding is one of her family's greatest accomplishments.
"I'm so happy for my husband, such a hard worker, a man that will not quit," said Betty Hayes who also joined her husband at the pulpit during the celebration.
So Saturday, with music, prayer and song, it was a celebration of overcoming the tough times and feeling more united than ever before.
"To know that everybody was there for us was really great, and it really is touching," said Kimberly.
The Charlottesville Church of Christ was founded back in 1965 in downtown Charlottesville. The congregation moved to their current 5th Street Extended location in the late 1980s.