Thursday, September 20   Sign in or Register
Evangelical Focus
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google +
  • Instagram
  • Soundcloud

Newsletter, sign up to receive all our News by email.

Faith and political views
In my church...




Historic Welsh church gutted by fire

The blaze started in an old nightclub nearby. Around 40 people were evacuated.“Building or no building, the church will worship God and serve our community”, the pastor says.

SOURCES South Wales Argus, BBC AUTHOR Evangelical Focus NEWPORT 19 JUNE 2018 10:24 h GMT+1
Bethel Community Church tower before the fire. / Robin Drayton , Geograph Britain (CC BY-SA 2.0)

On Friday June, 15, 19th century Bethel Community Church in Stow Hill, Newport, Wales, was destroyed by fire.

The blaze started in the old Zanzibar nightclub and soon ravaged 140-year Bethel Community Church. Around 40 people were evacuated from neighbouring properties after the fire, but some have since returned home.

The pastor of the church, Andrew Cleverly told Welsh newspaper South Wales Argus that “the youth group were meeting in the basement of the church and one was late. That person then noticed the building next door was on fire”.

“Soon the emergency services arrived. The youth group managed to get out”, he recalled.



But “when we got to Stow Hill we could not do anything. We just had to watch it burn before our very eyes”, the pastor said.

“It is destroyed and we are devastated. The stain glass windows have gone. All you can now see is the four walls. There had been three floors”, he added.

Pastor Cleverly explained that they “had been in the process of re-developing the upper level […] but the damage from the fire is a lot. I fear it is unrepairable. It will cost millions of pounds to put right”.



According to Cleverly, Bethel Community Church “has played a big part in the community. We have done a lot with refugees, we have been helping the community for 140 years”.

That is why “we will be sorely missed. I do not know what the future will hold now for the building” , he pointed out.

“But I must say that the church is not the building, it is the people. The people, thank goodness, were not burnt down. I am gutted - like the building. But the church is not dead”.



A 43 year old man and a 36 year old woman from Newport were arrested by Gwent Police on Saturday, but this Monday a spokesman confirmed both have been released pending further inquiries.

An investigation into the cause of the fire is still continuing. No-one is thought to have been hurt but a cordon remains in Stow Hill and around the buildings. A spokesman for Gwent Police said the cordon is expected to remain in place all week.



On Sunday morning, about 250 people attended an outdoor service close to the burned remains of the building.

The congregation prayed together and sang songs as pastor Cleverly asked to “pray for the future of this church” and for the community to “stand up and be strong”.

He thanked the people of Newport for the support that the church has been shown since the fire.

“Building or no building, the church will worship God and serve our community. Thank you to everyone who made today possible, those who came to sing, pray and trust with us. God has blessed and strengthened us by your support and comforted by our faith in Christ”, the church wrote in its facebook page.



Local authorities, members of the emergency services who attended the fire, as well as other churches, came to show their support at the service.

“It's important that the community comes together and shows their solidarity”, Mayor Malcolm Linton said and offered the authority's “continuing support in helping the church to recover from this devastating fire”.

Meanwhile, Debbie Wilcox, leader of Newport City Council, said “when we get back to the civic tomorrow we will be looking at every which way in which we can help”.



Concerns about the state of the former nightclub, which closed in 2010, were sent to the council over a week before the building went up in flames

Newport Conservatives said they had emailed the city council on 7 June calling for the former Zanzibar and Heights 2000 club to be inspected due to “fear this could collapse or end up going up in flames”.

The Council pointed out that they acted on concerns raised about the safety of the privately owned property immediately, and carried out a structural safety assessment the day the email was received.




    If you want to comment, or


YOUR ARE AT: - - Historic Welsh church gutted by fire
Nominal Christianity, a mission field for the church Nominal Christianity, a mission field for the church

An interview with Lars Dahle, of the Steering Committee of the Lausanne Movement Global Consultation on Nominal Christianity held in Rome.

Ruth Valerio: A lifestyle that cares about creation Ruth Valerio: A lifestyle that cares about creation

Are Christians called to make a difference in environmental care? What has creation care to do with "loving our neighbours"? An interview with the Global Advocacy and Influencing Director of Tearfund.

Kathy Bryan: Online sex trafficking in the USA Kathy Bryan: Online sex trafficking in the USA

“Prostitution is nobody’s dream,  it’s a very traumatic lifestyle”, says Kathy Bryan, director of the Elevate Academy. She mentors former victims.

Christians in politics? Christians in politics?

What is the role of Christians serving in politics? An interview with Auke Minnema, the new General Director of the European Christian Political Movement (ECPM).

Michael Ramsden: Communicating the Gospel in today’s societies Michael Ramsden: Communicating the Gospel in today’s societies

RZIM International Director Michael Ramsden responds to questions about the secularisation of Europe, the role of Christians in public leadership and the new ‘culture of victimism’.

Sharing Jesus with World Cup fans in Moscow Sharing Jesus with World Cup fans in Moscow

A team of Steiger mission is starting conversations about the gospel in the middst of the football celebration in Russia.

Analysing current issues in the light of the Bible Analysing current issues in the light of the Bible

At the 2018 Apologetics Forum in Comarruga (Spain), Michael Ramsden, Pablo Martinez, Ruth Valerio and José de Segovia analysed how society and the Bible approach the issues of personal identity, integrity, sexuality, pop culture, and environmental care.

European “Bridges to Inclusion” gathering 2018, in Riga European “Bridges to Inclusion” gathering 2018, in Riga

The network of Christian ministries working for the inclusion of people with disabilities, celebrated its tenth continental meeting in Latvia with the participation of 12 countries.


How does romantic love change over time? How does romantic love change over time?

Psychatrist Pablo Martínez uses a metaphor to explain how romantic love evolves.

‘Mediterráneo’ ‘Mediterráneo’

“Something will change if you have hunger and thirst for justice”, sings Spanish artist Eva Betoret in a song about the refugee crisis.

How the loss of universal values led to a loss of civility How the loss of universal values led to a loss of civility

Author Bruce Little: “We have moved from a sense of responsibility to ‘my personal rights’”.

Reaching non-Christian ‘Christians’ Reaching non-Christian ‘Christians’

How can we reach those who call themselves ‘Christians’ but have not experienced a conversion to Christ? Forty missiologists and mission practitioners came together for a Lausanne Movement global consultation in Rome.

Follow us on Soundcloud
Follow us on YouTube

EVANGELICAL FOCUS belongs to Areópago Protestante, linked to the Spanish Evangelical Alliance (AEE). AEE is member of the European
Evangelical Alliance and World Evangelical Alliance.

Opinions expressed are those of their respective contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of Evangelical Focus.