Louisville, Ohio, January 30, 2018
Fr. Mikel Hill arrived to St. Nikolai Orthodox Church in Louisville, Ohio on Sunday morning, August 27, to prepare for the Divine Liturgy and immediately noticed the smell of fuel and smoke. Fire crews were dispatched, but the building still suffered water, fire, and accelerant damage.
Now, after 6 months of repairs totaling $140,000, the parish community plans to return for their first Divine Liturgy on Saturday, February 17, reports The Alliance Review.
The church building is only two-years old, and had to be reduced down to the studs, with the entire interior being replaced due to smoke damage.
“We hope the floors and trim to be done when we celebrate our first Liturgy,” Fr. Hill added.
95% of the repair costs were covered by insurance, while the local community and other Orthodox communities made up the remaining 5% through donations.
In the meantime, the parish community celebrated Liturgies at a park pavilion, and in a nearby Catholic parish. It hasn’t been easy for the community, Fr. Hill notes, especially the architecture of an Orthodox church plays a key role in the worship itself. Nevertheless, the community continues to give thanks to God.
“As we as a community witness this terrible event that brings us much sadness, remember that happy are we Christians because we have been given the joy of being with our Lord at this time,” Father Hill added.
The community hopes that all the repairs will be finished in May, and they are planning to have a grand re-opening ceremony.
Richard D. Rhodes was taken into custody on August 29, confessing to the fire at St. Nikolai’s and vandalism against a cross at nearby St. Nicholas Church. He also allegedly shot at a number of local businesses. Rhodes’ attorney has stated that his client is mentally ill.