GABOLA church supporters came in their numbers to join up in Mangaung yesterday.

As Bishop Tsietsi Makiti (52) opened the new branch, people took up membership, joyfully sang church songs and danced while holding bottles of booze.

They welcomed the bishop into the Notice Tavern, where the service was being held.

It was the church’s third branch to be opened since it was first launched in Orange Farm in the Vaal, Gauteng, two months ago.

Rocklands residents, who said they were tired of being called drunkards arrived joyfully.

Makiti said: “People who are going to be baptised will now be proud members. I’m using the beer they love to baptise them.

“We as the Gabola church say no to church fees. Our mission is to collect those who other churches judge.

“Everybody needs to have a relationship with God, but many don’t go to church because drinking is frowned upon.”

The bishop said they’d received a lot of invitations in Mangaung.

“We will be back again in the next month or so to open more branches,” he said.

Tavern owner Hazel Oliphant said: “I am happy it is the first tavern in the Free State to host this church.

“We are going to have services every Sunday and invite everyone who likes their beer but also wants to hear the word of God.”

Newly baptised Levo Lethuka (49) said: “I will never miss a church service again.

“I am happy with the service and it is not about drinking. Psalm 106 also was read. I learnt a lot today.”

Thato Moile said: “This church is madness. I wish Jesus can come and slap all these people. They’re disrespecting the church.”