THE Bishop of Durham has officially opened a new centre in the North-East which brings together people of all faiths and religions under one roof offering a place to pray, meet, learn and debate.

The bishop cut the red and white ribbon at a ceremony to open the Sunderland University’s Interfaith Chaplaincy Centre alongside the vice chancellor Professor Peter Fidler, the chaplain, Reverand Chris Howson and religious leaders involved with the university.

The launch was attended by members of university staff, members of the public and students. The centre is open to anyone, whether or not they are religious and has a theological library, prayer spaces for different religions and will act as a meeting point for different activities and events. The centre is based at Wearbank House, Charles Street, and is next to the university’s Sir Tom Cowie campus at St Peter’s and the historic St Peter’s Church.

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After he opened the new centre the Bishop declared the chaplaincy building was a place of, “reverence, respect and realism.”

Rev Howson, who organised the launch, said: “This will be a space for people of all faiths to use, and help people from completely different backgrounds get to know each other. It’s got large amounts of resources, and creates opportunities for all faiths to talk and work together to help make Sunderland a great place.

“Community groups can use it and it’s wonderful to have this here, it shows the inclusion within the university and acceptance of people from across the world.” The facility will also act as a place where students and staff can step back from the pressure of academic or work life and meet people from a variety of backgrounds. Cultural events will also take place at the centre.

Yusuf Meah, imam of the university’s Islamic Society, said: “In Sunderland we haven’t had anything of an inter faith level of this nature before and this can bring people of all faiths together. It will help people across the North-East community engage and bond and it is not just for students but also in the wider community of Sunderland.