A CHURCH has finally celebrated the opening of its new building after years of planning and dedication.
The City Life Church, in Millfield, has cut the ribbon on the £650,000 development, more than two years after buying the land.
Formerly known as Millfield Pentecostal, the Hylton Road church opened the doors at the weekend to the centre next door, which already has a full schedule booked in.
“Until now we have used our church hall for absolutely everything we did,” said minister Kevin Clarke.
“But this lets us move things into the other building, where there is more room and it frees up our hall.”
The 54-year-old added: “We have a youth group that takes place, meals for the elderly and other things along those lines that will automatically be moved next door.
“We actually bought the piece of wasteland over two years ago, but it has taken this long to get the planning and building sorted out.
“This is going to help us have more of a positive presence in the community.”
More than 200 people were expected at the grand opening, including the Mayoress of Sunderland Norma Wright.
Kevin said the church was there to service its 250-strong congregation and beyond.
“We are here to help the people of Millfield and this expansion is going to give us the opportunity to do that.”
Former Pastor Tom Hilton, 72, is also excited at the new development.
He said: “I can remember 12 years ago when we had our first extension in April 1999.
“But this one cost in excess of half-a-million pounds, and it will act as a real outreach for our community.
“The congregation almost fills the whole church already on a Sunday, so an extension will be good for them too.
“The money used on the project came from generous grants and some donations from the congregation, so we hope they are pleased with the results.”