Cortland church prepares for Easter reopening after fire

CORTLAND (WSYR-TV) - A Cortland church will reopen its doors this Easter after a fire caused them to close last summer. 

"It surprised me how many people were concerned here in Central New York," Rev. Peter Williams, the Pastor of Cortland's Grace and Holy Spirit Church, said. 

The church suffered nearly 100,000 dollars in damage in June when a fire started in the foyer. The building's soup kitchen and sanctuary needed repairs. 

"It's very symbolic about what our faith's about," Williams said. "That in the face of death, there's life."

Easter's 8 a.m. and 10:15 a.m. services will be the first since the church has reopened. 

"It has made us a stronger community," Gwen Barbato, a parishioner who helped lead the restoration efforts, said.

She added that much of the Cortland community stepped up to help during the church's time of need. Firefighters helped donate food and SUNY Cortland's Interfaith Council lent the church a place to hold their services.  

"People really do look out for each other," Williams said. "This was a good example of that."  

Now, with the church community fully restored, they are prepared to take their message beyond the building's walls.

"The important thing is we do the best we can to reach out to the people around us with our faith and with our love." 

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