Newport church's prayer room survives devastating fire

Taken from BBC website

The pastor of a fire-ravaged church has said it is "quite incredible" a prayer room survived relatively unscathed.

The 130-year-old Grade-II listed Bethel Community Church on Stow Hill in Newport was destroyed after a fire spread from an old nightclub next door.

Some worshippers speculated that a "spiritual fire" had protected the room, Pastor Andrew Cleverly said.

Mr Cleverly is also hoping to retrieve tapes of his late father's sermons which are stored in the room.

About 95 firefighters and police officers responded on 15 June but it took until the following evening to put out the blaze.

A 43-year-old man and a woman, aged 36, were arrested on suspicion of arson but have been released pending further inquiries.

An image released from inside the church shows a room and furniture within it apparently untouched by the fire.

Mr Cleverly said some of the community had "found comfort" in the belief that its use as a prayer room had shielded it from the fire.

"It is quite incredible really," said Mr Cleverly, who was sent the image from an engineer.

"It was untouched. And I don't believe there was a fire door, I think it was just a wooden door.

"People are taking comfort in the belief that the reason the room was still intact was because there was a spiritual fire which the ordinary fire could not penetrate."

Mr Cleverly, whose father was the former church pastor who passed away 18 months ago, added that the room was also used to store audio tape recordings of his father's sermons. 

"When it is safe to do so, I would like to try and retrieve them," he said.

A special service will take place at the nearby Havelock Street Presbyterian Church from 15:00 BST on Sunday.

"It will be a special time of reflection and a time to come together," added Mr Cleverly.

"I would like to thank the [Havelock Street Presbyterian] church which has been very, very generous in offering us a space for worship."

He also thanked the community and local businesses for supporting the church.

"Sometimes it takes something like this to show how a community comes together," he added.

Last modified on Thursday, 28 June 2018 15:00