HUNDREDS of worshippers and shoppers gathered to show their support for a city centre church destroyed by a devastating fire.

An open air church service was held in Newport’s John Frost Square in Friars Walk for the Grade II listed Bethel Community Church on Stow Hill.

The church was reduced to a smoking ruin after a blaze spread from abandoned former nightclub Zanzibar next door in June.

Last week, Pastor Andrew Cleverly confirmed the good news that the church’s insurance will cover the costs of rebuilding. Yesterday, a large crowd turned up to show to back the open air event as Bethel Community Church teamed up with 17 other churches across Newport.

The church hopes to begin the rebuilding process early next year.

Called Newport Alive! there was a service, live music, a puppet show and testimonies from congregation members.

Pastor Cleverly told the Argus: “We’ve had a very impressive turnout and the Friars Walk management have been fantastic in their support for us.

“We’ve had 17 churches from across Newport gather to help spread the Christian messages of hope, forgiveness and love throughout our community.”

The event was supported by the city’s mayor Malcolm Linton.

He told the crowd: “It is heart-warming to see so many of you here today, joining together to demonstrate the unity and positive work that the churches do in our city.

“I know many of you were in shock after fire destroyed so much of your beloved building and it is reassuring to know that eventually the building can be rebuilt and returned to its former glory.

“I would like to thank Pastor Andrew Cleverly of Bethel Community Church and so many other churches in Newport for inviting me to this service.

“I can see there is a lot of love and support here and I am sure we are all looking forward to the day when the renewed Bethel Community Church is open once again.”

The pastor has thanked members of the public for donations towards the restoration work.