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LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB)--A Louisville church is helping hundreds of local families through tough times. That is somewhat of a miracle for Portland Avenue Presbyterian Church.
If any church ever hit rock bottom, it's Portland Avenue Presbyterian Church.
Pastor Willa Fae Williams says, (it was) "January 16th...2009."
That's the day the 158 year old church literally burned to the ground.
"And i was standing across the street on the corner, in the dark," says Rev. Williams.
Rev. Williams is the church's senior pastor. She and other members watched as the church went up in flames, but nearly three years later...there's a different perspective on the fire.
Williams says, "I can tell you now that we could not be where we are and what we're doing had there never been a fire."
Since the fire, the church has rebuilt, but this time in the old Kroger building next door.
"We learned first of al that the fire did not destroy the church...the fire destroyed the building...the church is the people."
And the people have made sure the church bounced back in every way...from the clothes closet to the food pantry that feed and clothe hundreds of people every year.
"Lets say if the average family was four...you're feeding 175 families a month."
And the church even provides Christmas to several local families. "And we go before school is out so mom can so mom can hide everything and have a surprise on Christmas day."
It's all part of their annual angel tree program. "How does this little church do what they do?"
Pastor Williams says it's through faith, loyal members and even a recent donation from a family connected to the church's roots. "They are the decedents of the little woman named Jane McCaula...who was responsible for this church being founded in 1855."
The new building is far from the traditional church...but it's home for now...and members take comfort in being able to see an important piece of church history that survived the fire.
"The bell tower is fine...the bell tower...it took lots and lots of water but it's fine...and there it stands."
The church is in the process of trying to raise money to not only continue it's mission but to also renovate and expand.