People said they were grateful to be able to meet up again at the church in Mt. Lebanon.By Chris Hoffman

MT. LEBANON (KDKA) — It was the first Sunday in more than a year that almost looked normal for parishioners with St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Mt. Lebanon.

“It’s going to be so wonderful. We’ve been looking forward to it,” parishioner Carolyn Cornelius said.

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The impact of the pandemic still lurked. People were masked, distant and not in their church home but the Peterswood Park in Peters Township.

“I wouldn’t not be here. I go to church all the time. Every week. This is my church,” said Ellen Goss who has been a parishioner for more than 30 years.

For the past 15 months, the church has had small group setting or Zoom meetings.

“God bless Zoom,” Cornelius said with a smile.

For Cornelius, that’s how she was able to meet some of the parishioners. She started going to the church right before the pandemic. Same with Wayne Williams.

“Being isolated. Just via Zoom was challenging,” Williams’s recalled.

“It’s also been a time when I’ve really learned and seen how a community can be held together even though som really hard times,” St. Paul’s Reverend Noah Evans said.

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Church leaders felt it was time and safe enough to allow hundreds of the 15-hundred members to gather.

“We haven’t missed worshiping. We’ve just missed being together,” Goss said before the service.

It was fitting on Pentecost Sunday for people of faith to be all in one place as one family.

“Scripture tells us the disciples gathered together in one place so we knew that today was going to be the day to do that,” Rev. Evans said.

“People of faith grow a lot when they are able to meet together celebrate together of all faiths,” Williams said.

Doves were released to celebrate the occasion.

“It’s exciting. It’s really is exciting to be back if you will. The pandemic is not over but we’re getting there,” Williams said while setting up his chair.

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The hope is for more large gatherings in the future.