Oak­mont's first black church re­opens af­ter dev­as­tat­ing fire

South Florida Times - - PRAYERFUL LIVING - St. Paul Bap­tist Church in Oak­mont MICHAEL DIVITTORIO Tri­bune-Re­view

By

OAK­MONT, Pa. (AP) - When Dorothy Grif­fin saw her beloved church burn down nearly four years ago, her heart broke. But not her faith.

“We were plan­ning a spe­cial ser­vice that Sunday,'' said Grif­fin, 91, the old­est mem­ber of St. Paul Bap­tist Church in Oak­mont. “It was our pas­tor's an­niver­sary ... I knew in my heart that we had to re­build, and I be­lieved in my heart that God was go­ing to en­able us to re­build.''

The con­gre­ga­tion did, with the help of other churches and or­ga­ni­za­tions through­out the bor­ough.

A new, larger place of wor­ship now stands at 435 Sec­ond St. Par­ish­ioners cel­e­brated its ded­i­ca­tion last week.

“Three and a half years was a chal­lenge,'' Dea­con Wil­liam Kemp said.“With our spir­i­tual strength and our spir­i­tual ties, we all stayed to­gether as a con­gre­ga­tion. Be­ing led by Pas­tor (Reid) Greene, he blessed us with the strength to keep us all to­gether.

“We watched from spring to sum­mer to fall to win­ter an­tic­i­pat­ing (the new church). We got to this point here. It's a won­der­ful feel­ing.''

A fire on Sept. 19, 2014, de­stroyed the church near the corner of Sec­ond Street and Delaware Av­enue.

The con­gre­ga­tion of about 100 held ser­vices and Bi­ble study at the Riverview Com­mu­nity Ac­tion Corp. fa­cil­ity across the street while it em­barked on the re­con­struc­tion project. Vir­ginia-based Church De­vel­op­ment Ser­vices did the work.

The new church is 94 feet by 48 feet, with a 29-foot steeple, seat­ing for 136 and meets all Amer­i­cans with Dis­abil­i­ties Act re­quire­ments, CEO Glen Tre­ma­tore said last month.

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