The diversity and vibrancy of Sunderland’s religious community came into its own as people of all faiths celebrated Interfaith Week 2016.
The eighth annual event concluded with an Interfaith Walk, which involved more than 100 people from Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu and Bahai traditions, while earlier in the week saw a community clean up, near the Mosque on St Marks Road.
“The week was a great success, and it really showed that Sunderland is an increasingly diverse and vibrant city,” said Reverend Chris Howson, co-chair of the Sunderland Interfaith Forum.
“If we want to gain the city of culture status, we must do more of these events to promote the rich and diverse make up of our community.
“Sunderland is full of good people who want to simply understand each other and get on with their neighbours.”
Walk organiser Zaf Iqbal said: “Despite bad weather, large numbers came out to hear Nigerian Drumming, witness Islamic prayer, visit the new Mercy Chapel on Bridge Street, and also to enjoy the great hospitality of the Sikh Gurdwara.
If we want to gain the city of culture status, we must do more of these events to promote the rich and diverse make up of our communityChris Howson
“This year we were able to end the walk by joining in with the Diwali celebrations in Sunderland Museum. A truly great Interfaith Week for Sunderland.”
Nationally, more than 500 events have taken place, and an increasing number of churches, gurdwaras, mandirs, mosques, synagogues, temples and viharas have thrown open their doors.
People of various religions, as well as non-religious beliefs, have hosted those of other faiths, visited each others’ places of worship; discussed responses to challenging issues of the moment; contributed to social action projects to help their local communities; and taken active roles in civic and other markings of the week.
People of non-religious beliefs have also been actively involved in many events.
UK Interfaith Network co-chairmen, Bishop Richard Atkinson and Jatinder Singh Birdi, said: “The events have sent a powerful signal about people of different faiths and beliefs working together for the good of our shared society and about the importance of positive inter faith relations.”