Church Where Two Pittsburgh Firefighters Were Killed Reopens Two Years Later

March 13, 2004, was one of the worst days of their lives for members of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in the Hill District.

Nov. 18, 2006, may be remembered as one of the best days.

More than 32 months after the church was destroyed by fire, the community Saturday consecrated the new $7 million Ebenezer Baptist Church.

Some members danced, some cried, most sang -- they all celebrated.

"This is a very special day for the whole city because everyone is really a part of it in their celebrating. This is one of the newest historical events in the city," said Valerie Harris, a member of the church.

"Strong winds may blow, but we got our hands in God's great big hands and everything is going to be all right," Harris added.

For more than two years, members of the congregation were forced to find other places to worship. Saturday, it seems they all returned -- and brought friends and relatives with them.

"It just shows what faith can do and what God can do," said Margaret Lojay Dunmore, one church member's sister. "I know some of the memories that were lost can never be regained. But you know what -- it is a very, very beautiful edifice and the spirit of the Lord is here."

"It's a blessing to all of us. We've waited a long time for this day, and we're happy that it's finally come," said Aaron Walton, a member of the church.

Two Pittsburgh firefighters died while fighting the fire. Charles Brace and Richard Stefanakis were killed when the church's bell tower collapsed.

A memorial for the firefighters is inside the new church. Members will consecrate it on the first Sunday in December.