A La Crescenta church started to rise from the ashes earlier this month as work got underway to rebuild it on the same site where it burned down nearly eight years ago during a choir rehearsal.
Ever since flames from an electrical fire destroyed the Christian Life Church, membership has dwindled and services have bounced around from place to place.
“We went from about 100 people down to 25,” said Pastor Randy Foster, who joined the church in 2010 in the midst of reviving the reconstruction project.
Roughly $2 million in insurance money is covering most of the building costs, but the real challenge that delayed the project was getting a design approved by the Glendale City Council, he said.
After multiple design iterations, the new church will be 7,500 square feet, which is smaller than the original building that had various sections dating back to the 1920s and ’50s. New plans include a sanctuary with a enough seating room to accommodate 200 people.
“We’re only able to build half the size what we had before,” Foster said, adding, “We’re still going to have a sanctuary with a couple hundred seats, that’s just slightly smaller than the previous sanctuary.”
Located at 3013 Montrose Ave., construction started on June 1, and a grand opening is slated for fall 2015, he added.
Churchgoer Deby Seal, along with her family, has been a Christian Life Church member since 1986 and was at the church during the fire, helping people get out.
She misses what was a big part of her life, but now feels nothing but excitement when she drives past the construction site and sees bits of progress each time.
“It still brings a lot of emotion. We have waited a long time for this,” she said. “This church has been more like a family.”
But Seal and her family are just a few of the people that stayed with the church since the 2006 fire.
Services have continued to be held every Wednesday and Sunday at other La Crescenta churches and currently take place in a separate classroom building on the Christian Life Church property that’s been converted into a makeshift sanctuary.
Yet Foster said he’s not discouraged by the drop in attendance and expects the new church building will bring in new members once the doors finally open.
“There’s no question in my mind that the church will grow,” he said. “Any time there’s something new, people get excited and want to be part of it.”
Follow Arin Mikailian on Twitter: @ArinMikailian.