3 years after fire destroys building, Portland Ave. church dedicates new home

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE)- Years after the congregation of the Portland Avenue Presbyterian Church lost their church in a massive fire, they're finally in their new permanent home. It was a historic church that was more than 100 years old. A building and a congregation that played a part in the West End neighborhood of Portland. When the building burned down, the community took a hit. But, its members rose from those ashes. Now, they have a new home.   

The choir and congregation members and visitors sang songs of praise Sunday afternoon. In their sanctuary, every seat was filled on a special Sunday.

"Deep within my heart today, represents 3 years and 33 days of wondering and waiting, but never without hope," Said Senior Pastor Willa Fae Williams.

Their faith never shaken despite what happened more than 3 years ago.

"The fire was a heartbreak to everyone," Said Joyce Wyatt, an 8-year member of the church.

Images from January 16, 2009 that are hard to forget. It was so cold that day, water froze as it hit the church and the ground. The cold temperatures made it nearly impossible for firefighters to save the historic building.

"I still think about it," Said Wyatt. "I think about the beautiful stained glass windows that all broke and went up in flames."

The church's bell tower was the only thing left standing after that massive fire. Just steps away, in their new church home, members said they always kept the faith.

"We are a family," Said Dustin Morganette, a 10 year member of the church. "That's what this whole entire congregation is about. It's about being a family and to be home is even more important."

The former Kroger building, now completely renovated, is their new home.

"People say the Kroger building. But now, it's Portland Avenue Presbyterian Church. To be back at home, means a lot," Said Morganette.

Over the years, the congregation worshiped in several places. Now having a 28,000 square foot permanent place of their own dedicated and growing.

"It's not the building. It's the people," Said Wyatt. "And there's a lot of good that needs to be done here in Portland. I think it's a new beginning."

Williams said more work is top be done on the facility. Including building an entirely new sanctuary and getting rid of the loading dock in the rear of the building. The church is also working with other outreach ministries at their new location.