Palm Harbor church nearly ready to reopen after devastating 2014 fire

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PALM HARBOR, Fla. (WFLA) – Their faith was tested when a fire burned down their Palm Harbor church in 2014. Miraculously, the holy relics of their saints remained untouched by the fires devastation. 

The parishioners at Saints Raphael, Nicholas And Irene Greek Orthodox Church have been using everything from a library to an old steakhouse as a temporary house of worship, since that fire. Now, years after unwavering devotion and fundraising, their prayers have been answered. 

“God did this, not us,” said parishioner Anna Constantine. 

After nearly six years, the church is almost ready to officially reopen its doors. 

“The final touches of the church are happening. Everywhere you look, everywhere your eye can focus, it has a special meaning,” said Constantine. 

From the alter, to the stained glass windows, everything from floor to ceiling is from Greece. That also includes the man who is overseeing the multi-million dollar project.  

“You need craftsman with 20 to 40 years of expertise. Otherwise, you will not be able to do it. We brought around 40 people to this country and their visaed for three years to be able to do this structure,” said George Panayopopulos. 

Anna Constantine tells 8 On Your Side more funds are still needed before they can welcome believers back inside. 

“We want to be in this church but we do not have the occupancy license because there are certain aspects of this church that we need to complete. We still need a parking lot, irrigation, plants. We need somewhere for the people to sit!” 

Saints Raphael, Nicholas And Irene Greek Orthodox Church has a fundraising goal of $700,000. To learn more about how you can help complete the project, head to the church’s website or call (727) 789-5905.

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