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Oakmont congregation could return to rebuilt church by spring

Michael DiVittorio
| Friday, Oct. 13, 2017, 11:30 a.m.
St. Paul Baptist Church along Second Street in Oakmont is under construction.
Lillian DeDomenic | For The Tribune-Review
St. Paul Baptist Church along Second Street in Oakmont is under construction.

A church that was destroyed by fire in 2014 is expected to be resurrected in Oakmont by spring.

Poor weather has put construction crews about a month behind schedule for rebuilding St. Paul Baptist Church at Second Street and Delaware Avenue.

“It's coming along well. The weather's not doing us any favors,” said Jeff Ritterspach of M3 Development Group, Columbiana, Ohio. “It's going to be a nice looking building when it's done. It's going to be an asset to the community.”

The $1.6 million church is expected to be ready for services in March.

The congregation of about 100 has been having services and Bible study at the Riverview Community Action Center since the church burned down on Sept. 19, 2014.

Parishioner Mary McGee of Tarentum said membership has fluctuated since the fire.

“Some churches might fall apart if something like this happened,” McGee said. “Not in our case. We still have a good amount of people, which I think has to be the grace of God. We went through a couple of challenges.”

A month prior to the fire, longtime pastor, the Rev. Morgan James Reynolds, died at the age of 93. He had served as pastor at St. Paul Baptist for more than 40 years, from 1966 to 2009. Its interim pastor is the Rev. Reid Greene.

According to the “African-American Historic Sites Survey of Allegheny County,” the old church was built in 1874 by an Episcopal congregation. The book states the St. Paul's was Oakmont's first black congregation, formed in 1905. It bought the church on Second Street in 1924.

Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-871-2367, mdivittorio@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MikeJdiVittorio.

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