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Norfolk church to hold first service after May 2012 fire

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Posted at 6:42 PM, Jun 21, 2013
and last updated 2013-06-21 20:14:37-04

Norfolk, Va. - On Sunday, churches across Hampton Roads will open their doors like they always do. But for one Norfolk church, it will be the first time the congregation has worshiped there in over a year.

An arsonist sent a blaze through the halls and was never caught. Despite it all, a celebration is in the works.

"There were five or six fire trucks surrounding the church," Pastor John Monroe says.

Pastor Monroe reflects back to May of last year, the night his church, Royster Memorial Presbyterian Church caught fire.

"That night, no one was hurt in the fire. No one was in the building," he says.

Fire officials say it was arson. The blaze started in a hallway and spread to the church's newly renovated kitchen.

Fire ate one end of the church and smoke filled the rest.

"I opened the door, could not see the other side of the room because it was so filled with smoke," Pastor Monroe says.

So much damage the church and its school, The Mustard Seed, were forced to shut down.

Over a year later, full of renovations for the church, and reflection for Pastor Monroe.

"Paul said don't let the sun go down on your anger. Get out there and deal with it," he says.

And as the sun rises on a new day, the church gets ready to hold its first service this weekend.

What was once a charred kitchen is new again. The hallways are no longer covered in black soot. The pianos and organ are clean and ready to lead hymns.

And The Mustard Seed classrooms are once again filled with books and crafts and children's laughter.

Pastor Monroe now sees blessings all around him.

"Celebrating the kindness and support we've gotten from the community and the patience of the congregation. So there's lots to celebrate," he says.