Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church to reopen after 2015 fire

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Workers seem like they're rushing to finish the job on rebuilding the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church on Old Coachman Road in Clearwater, but their work has been anything but rushed.

Crews have worked meticulously to preserve what remained of the sanctuary after a fire nearly destroyed it in February 2015. 

The distinctive golden dome was built around a treasured icon of the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus. After the fire, the icon was been sealed and protected while the structure around it was restored.

Father James Paris and many others came running as the church burned Feb. 7, 2015. Investigators say it was caused by a candle. The blaze was extinguished, but the congregation's faith wasn't.

Since the fire, they've held services in the gym and the church has grown. 

"In today's day and age when churches are closing down all over the country, we're expanding and able to grow and give more to our community. It's amazing," says George Mantzaris, president of the church council.

He says they've had donations and pledges of over $6 million.

The church's architecture is classic Byzantine, steeped in Greek tradition and anchored by icons saved from the fire. The original church was dedicated in December 1969.

They're on track to reopen for the 50th-anniversary celebration. 

"Our 50th anniversary is Christmas Eve, so we'll be having Christmas Eve services here in the new sanctuary," says Michael Kastrenakes, former president of the church council.

They're promising that their new church rising out of the ashes will carry their traditions into the future.