Faith walk around Sunderland's places of worship celebrates city's multicultural heritage

The walk brought Interfaith Week to a close in Sunderland.
The walk brought Interfaith Week to a close in Sunderland.

A walking tour of Sunderland's places of worship brought to an end a week which brings together religious groups from across Wearside.

Starting from Sunderland Minister, the fifth Interfaith walk headed to the Sikh Gurdwara temple in Stockton Road before the group gathered in Backhouse Park.

There, Tony Wortman, who represents the Jewish community in the city, spoke about its history close to the spot where its synagogue once stood.

The group then moved on to the Buddhist temple in Bede Terrace, before making a final stop at Hendon Mosque.

At each location, they were met with representatives from each faith as they learned about their beliefs and customs and were offered hospitality, including food.

Yesterday's walk was joined by Sue Winfield, Lord Lieutenant of Tyne and Wear, and Deputy Mayor of Sunderland, Councillor David Snowdon.

It was organised by Sunderland Interfaith Forum, which is led by co-chairmen Reverend Chris Howson, chaplain to Sunderland University, and Zaf Iqbal, of Anware Madina Mosque in St Mark's Road in Millfield.

It follows a week of activities, which has included visits to schools, a litter pick near the St Mark's Road building and a ceilidh at the minister.

Rev Howson said: "Sunderland is a growing, multicultural city and this walk is part of our Interfaith Week celebrations.

"What we find is that many people have never stepped inside other places of worship.

"This is about breaking down barriers and helping people to understand and recognise that at the heart of all faiths is love, prayer and joyful celebration."

He added the clear-up in Millfield had helped bring people together and showed solidarity following on from a vandal attack at the mosque earlier this month.

"This was a very clear response to the vandalism attack and shows how all faiths work together positively," Rev Howson said.

"It went really well and people got involved, and it just goes to show how well cultures in our city come together.

"People might not realise it, but we all work together closely for the benefit of everyone."

The dance event at the minister was also hailed a big success, with the building packed out for the evening.

Rev Howson said: "We had Kurdish, Iranian, Greek-Cypriot and Scottish traditions represented and the Cypriot-Iranian dance-off was one of the most fun things I've ever seen.

"We packed out the minister, which was really wonderful."