VANCOUVER, Wash. (KOIN) — Renovations began Friday on a church that was damaged in an arson spree last year.

The First Congregational United Church of Christ removed the 12-foot cross atop of the iconic ark-shaped church for the first time in 56 years for the renovation process.The arson severely damaged a dozen structural beams in the church and the congregation has been forced to hold their services elsewhere.

Nonetheless, they’ve seen membership grow.

“We’ve had people that have joined the church that have never seen the inside of the building,” Ken Rowe, the church Communications Chairman said.

Rebuilding is underway after a year of dealing with insurance and permits. The ark-shape will remain but the stained glass ceiling will be replaced.

“The architect has designed what we’re calling a brow. It’s a series of windows with a little overhang,” Rowe said.

Jennifer Brownell, the pastor at the church, says the renovation of the church is an opportunity for re-birth.

“A main tenant of our faith is resurrection and so we know that things have to die so that they can be re-born, and we really see this as an opportunity for re-birth.”