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Last Updated: Sunday, 7 October 2007, 16:01 GMT 17:01 UK
Service outside destroyed church
Service outside St Barnabus church
Sunday morning's service started in the open air
Hundreds of people have gathered for a special service outside a Birmingham church which was destroyed by fire.

The blaze, thought to be arson, at St Barnabas church in Erdington, destroyed the roof and most of the building apart from its stone shell.

The fire started on Thursday morning at the church, which insurers have said will be rebuilt in two years.

The service on Sunday morning started in the graveyard and ended at the church school.

Money offered

Archdeacon of Aston, the Ven Dr Brian Russell, said: "People need to take in the great loss and the building in its state needs to be right in our prayers at this moment, so we're here to be supported in our loss.

"We need God's strength to help us to be the church here - even Thursday night we met at the vicarage.

"We're active each day as the church, but we need God's strength in the weeks ahead to go on being a church of worship and service here.

"Then we need God's guidance to bring this church back in a good, imaginative way for the future."

The church, which was due to celebrate its 150th anniversary next April, is fully insured but local people and surrounding churches have already offered money to help the restoration process.

About 75 firefighters tackled the fire at its height at the church in High Street.

Destroyed church 'to be rebuilt'
05 Oct 07 |  West Midlands
Fire destroys 150-year-old church
04 Oct 07 |  West Midlands

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