The large signs on the front lawn of the Saugatuck Congregational Church are hard to miss: "We're Almost Done -- Returning Soon."

The message refers to the near completion of major repairs to the 181-year old church on Post Road East, which was seriously damaged in a Nov. 20, 2011, fire.

The blaze destroyed the rear section of the church that housed the congregation's offices and meeting rooms, a nursery school and a kitchen and left the church unusable.

"Well, saying it will reopen soon is a relative term," John Walsh, chairman of the church's building committee, said Tuesday. "Basically we are getting to the end of construction."

He said he didn't know exactly when the church will reopen for services. "But it should be by the end of the year," he said. "We are very far along in the reconstruction, but it will be some weeks before we are finished."

Once construction is complete, he added, there still needs to be an inspection and approval for a certificate of occupancy.

He said the signs were put up on the front lawn to let people know about the progress made and "that we remain on schedule."

Since the fire, regular worship services and the congregation's large community feasts for Thanksgiving and Christmas have had to be relocated.

Walsh said the hope is that Saugatuck Congregational will be able to hold services at the church this Christmas.