Arson-ravaged St Barnabas Parish Church is set to finally rise from the ashes after a huge fundraising effort.

More than £5 million has been ploughed into rebuilding the 18th century Erdington church since it was hit by an inferno in October 2007.

Now the church, built in the 1820s, will reopen to the public in time for Christmas on December 16, when a ticket-only rededication service will be held.

Reverend Freda Evans, who took over at St Barnabas just six weeks after the fire, said: "It will be a very strange time for all of us, particularly because I have never led a service in that church.

"For those who have been worshipping at the church for a long time I think it will be perhaps a sensitive time.

"We're moving into a new church, there is going to be an air of excitement and also a degree of trepidation for those coming into a place that is so different from what they remember.

"But there is some life in the church now instead of it being dark and miserable."

The roof and a number of the 16 stained glass windows at the church were destroyed in the October 4 blaze, though the clock, bell tower and walls remained intact.

Services had to be moved to St Barnabas School. But now the final touches are being put to what Rev Evans hopes will be a new hub for the community, with rooms available to hire from January.

A new 13-foot wide stained glass window has also been designed by artist Pippa Blackall, to take the place of some of those destroyed in the blaze.