Saint Thomas Church in North Preston, Nova Scotia, has reopened after extensive renovations following a devastating fire in March of this year.

A packed congregation with over 500 people joined in on the jubilant rededication service held Sunday afternoon.

The choir sang as parishioners hugged one another and shook hands, welcoming the church’s community back home – in its sacred building.

“The whole building needed to be renovated,” said Rev. Wallace Smith. “Everything you see here is new, even the lights in the ceiling. Everything. All the equipment, all the furniture, it's all new stuff.”

Close to $1 million in renovations were needed to restore the church after it sustained excessive smoke damage.

Smith, who has led the church services at the Recreation Centre across the street from the church for the last six months, says - while not ideal - the congregation worked with what they had to keep it running.

Parishioners said they’re relieved the church can get back to its normal routine now and they’re proud of its members for all of their efforts to keep its services going.

“We can get back to the church where we belong,” said parishioner, Richard Willis. “Where we first started at.”

“The building is just the building, we can have church anywhere, so the rec centre opened its doors, and we're grateful for the staff there, and we held church there,” said another church member, Vivian Dixon.

Sunday’s church service touched on the fire, but many in the congregation said they’re happy they can look forward to a new chapter of services in the restored building.

“It was an emotional morning for many in attendance,” said North Preston music artist, Reeny Smith.

“I was just overwhelmed with emotion, truthfully,” said Dixon. “It was very empowering and moving. I could feel the spirit from the moment I got up this morning.”

Rev. Smith put it simply:  “there's no place like home.”

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Emily Baron Cadloff.