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May 30, 2014 1:36 AM by Sam Salzwedel

Church celebrates 1 year after fire

TUCSON - Saint Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church members are celebrating on the 1-year anniversary of the fire that temporarily closed its doors.

Not only was May 29th the fire anniversary, it was also the day of Ascension. Ascension is 40 days after Easter. It is the day Christians believe Christ ascended back into heaven.

Considering Easter is the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Spring Equinox, the chances of the days coinciding are slim.

"Unbelievable," Father Earl Cantos said. "Not very probable. So we're thankful that God transformed this for us."

Cantos said he felt helpless as he watched firefighters work all night, but he was inspired by all the members who came to offer support the next morning.

"We're not the poor community that had their church burn down," Canto said. "We're going to be the community that rises from the ashes. We're going to be the community that grows."

The church will eventually relocate to a new property near River Road and Dodge Boulevard.

Bill Anastopoulos had 4 children baptized at the church, but he is ready to move on.

"There's a lot of folks here that put a lot of energy and sweat in here," Anastopoulos. "So it's definitely not an easy situation."

Nancy Jimmerson has been a part of the church for decades and always helps with the annual Greek Festival.

"We have strong faith," she said. "And I think we're just going to build even stronger in the future. Because our church is in our heart, not in our building."

The Greek Festival was cancelled in 2013 because of the fire. It will return September 25.

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