A new church has been opened in Alexandra ward by Oldham’s mayor, Cllr Zahid Chauhan.

The Victory Christian International Ministries church has moved from Union Street in the town centre to its permanent home on Ashton Road in Hathershaw.

On Sunday, Pastor Jolly Osemwonta who leads the new church, welcomed the mayor to cut the ribbon as part of the official opening.

Addressing the congregation at the opening, Cllr Chauhan said: “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.”

Cllr Chauhan is a Muslim and was made honorary warden of the Oldham’s Parish Church on Sunday, May 28 after he was announced as the new mayor of Oldham on Wednesday, May 24.

As mayor, Cllr Chauhan has made the decision to replace prayers before official council meetings with inspirational stories and poems about Oldham.

"I would much rather use the time before official meetings, not for me, but as a platform to remind everyone of our many inspiring local achievements and to strengthen our civic pride", he said on the change.

Summing up how he felt about being asked to open the Victory Christian International Ministries church, Cllr Chauhan said: “It’s an honour 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.”

Arriving at church, the mayor was met with a bouquet of flowers from one young worshipper, before entering the service to be greeted with a 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 said: “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 church has been raising funds for the sensory room through church donations and will be extending its fundraising efforts once it gains charitable status.