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Arson-damaged Burlington church to be rebuilt

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Rev. Debbie Ingram is on the restoration committee at the College Street Congregational Church. She's happy to there are plans to rebuild it, after the building suffered heavy fire damage in October due to arson. The church's iconic steeple was torched. Ingram hopes by the time the church is rebuilt, members will be celebrating two resurrections.

"By Easter, which is at the end of April 2014, that would sort of be symbolically positive for us. But we're not sure yet; it's really too soon to tell," Ingram said.

Rev. Ingram is a member of the College Street Congregational Church and also part of its restoration committee. She says the costs to clean up after the fire exceed $375,000 and expects the rebuilding to be more than $1 million.

"We're hiring a number of local contractors and experts on the bell and on the clock, and we're also getting a lot of support from the community and we're very grateful for that," Ingram said.

The Christmas Eve service will be the first worship service at the church since the fire.

"So, we feel that we've gone through the death phase. The cleanup has finished here at the church," Ingram said.

And the church is more than a house of worship; it also served the community by having a day care center in the basement.

"We had in the lower level of the church; we housed our infant and toddler program. So, there were about 33 families that were displaced as a result of the fire," said Cal Workman of the YMCA.

Luckily, the day care program found a temporary home at the Champlain College Ethan Allen Center, and Workman is hopeful the church across the street will return to its former glory.

"There's a lot of affection for our church building and our congregation," Ingram said. "And we're really grateful."

The church's congregation hopes to soon have back their Sunday sanctuary.

Aliaksandr Bychkou, 32, admitted setting the fire. He said voices told him to do it. He will pay for that crime by being deported from the United States back to his home country of Belarus.

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