Church reopens after fire - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Church reopens after fire

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BIRMINGHAM - AL -

Back in 2009, flames raced through Pleasant View Missionary Baptist Church. Since then they've been worshipping at other buildings, but Sunday all that changed.

Minister Louis Gilbert Jr. was all smiles Sunday as his congregation walked through new church doors for the first time since it burned down in December 31st, 2009. Gilbert witnessed the flames first hand.

"When I came here, the church was still burning. I was just helpless. I wanted to do something, but it was nothing I could do to stop the fire," says Gilbert.

The congregations' faith had seriously been tested. But longtime members kept the faith.

"I stood there and I watched it burn, I saw memories go away. But those memories can be brought back," says church member Doris Wallace. Another member Vann Battle says, "I was sad, I got a call that morning that the church was on fire and I came over and it was just about over when I got here. It was a sad moment."

But sadness turned into happiness on Sunday, as spirituals echoed throughout the crowd and as church members stood on their feet lifting their hands to rejoice.

The new building is as huge as the excitement among members. The spacious sanctuary holds more than 100 people.

With the rebirth of Pleasant View Missionary Baptist Church, members would like to see more people added to the pews. "We really didn't need a new building, but I think having this new building is going to bring new blood to the church," says Wallace.

Minister Gilbert couldn't agree more, and is thankful for the new building. "It's a joyful feeling, a feeling of celebration and accomplishment," says Gilbert.