Cllr Zahid Chauhan, the new ceremonial Mayor of Oldham, has opened a new Christian church as part of his commitment to uniting the town’s communities.
The Victory Christian International Ministries church has moved from its home on Union Street in the town centre to its permanent home on Ashton Road in Hathershaw.
Addressing the congregation following the Sunday sermon, Cllr Chauhan said it was an honor to be there, stating: “Everything I heard today is a testimony that we live in a country named Great Britain. Do you know why it’s called Great Britain? Because it has great people…who co-exist together. People from different backgrounds, people from different faiths, from different religions – they all come together.”
Mayor Chauhan is a Muslim and was made honorary warden of the Oldham’s Parish Church last Sunday, 28 May. In the spirit of uniting communities, he remarked to worshippers how great it is that the new Christian church can worship in the same way Muslims are in the mosque just steps away.
On summing up how he felt about being asked to open the church, Cllr Chauhan said: “It’s an honor and a privilege…opening a place of worship, in a town you love and in a ward you represent – you don’t get many opportunities like this.”
Pastor Jolly Osemwonta who leads the new church, said he was proud to welcome the Mayor to the new location and is working hard to bring positive change to the community after being warmly welcomed by the town just six years ago.
He said: “When we first came to Oldham in 2017, Oldham Parish welcomed us to share the church, and our services were held each Sunday in the Parish Church after their own Sunday morning service.”
Arriving at church, the Mayor was met with a bouquet of flowers from one young worshipper in a flowing red dress, before entering the service to be greeted with a vibrant choral song and congregational applause, with the pastor thanking him for his support.
Following the official opening and service, Cllr Chauhan went upstairs to the children’s church and met with some of the younger members.
Pastor Jolly added: “We have a lot of children in our congregation, some with special educational needs, so one of the things we want to do is to set up a sensory room for children in the area to enjoy. Not just children of those who attend church but all children from the entire community.”
The Mayor commended the church and its congregation for doing something wonderful to benefit Oldham’s people.
The church has been raising funds for the sensory room through church donations and will be extending its fundraising efforts once it gains charitable status in the near future.