May 30, 2013 12:31 AM by Rebecca Taylor

Greek church weighs whether to rebuild, or move after fire

TUCSON - Members of a well known church gathered Wednesday night to see what to do next after a fire damaged the building.

The fire started just after midnight at the Saint Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church.

Early indications are a candle started the fire inside the church.

It's familiar to most Tucsonans as the site of the annual Greek festival.

Church leaders say September's Greek Festival will go on.

For now church services will be held in the youth center, where dozens gathered Wednesday night.

Singing Greek hymns, parishioners filled the prayer service.

Andrew Ruboyianes says everyone in the room is family.

"It's our group, our family. When something happens we grieve together."

Inside St. Demetrios heat and smoke destroyed just about everything, but Andrew Ruboyianes says his memories can't be erased.

"My wife and I got married in this church, I was baptized in this church," says Ruboyianes, "We've baptized our daughter in this church and we're looking to baptize our upcoming daughter. She'll be born in 3 weeks."

Parishioner Tom Athanasiou has been a member for 32 years. He calls the holy compound his home away from home, 'Greece away from Greece'.

"In Greece right now they're rebuilding the country, we're going to do the same thing," says Athanasiou.

Church leaders are considering their options, staying put and rebuilding. Or relocating, perhaps to an undeveloped property they own along River Road.

Ruboyianes says, "The building is quite old, 30 or 40 years old. The question is, where do we go from here? It seems like God is maybe making that decision for us."

As they pick up the pieces, parishioners see light beyond the fire, and rejoice in the fact that no one was hurt.

Damage to the church is estimated at a million dollars.


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