The former Archbishop of Canterbury has praised the North East for its generosity despite the prevailing economic challenges facing the region.
Dr Rowan Williams was visiting the North East on Sunday to celebrate the charitable work of Christian Aid and people in the region who continue to support its work.
"This is not a prosperous part of the UK but its people have shared life and reached out to help others come alive. That is what we are celebrating, the generosity of the vulnerable," he said.
Dr Williams became chair of Christian Aid's national board of trustees in May and was speaking as guest preacher at a special service at Sunderland Cathedral organised by Christian Aid's North East team.
The service was held in partnership with the Anglican Diocese of Durham and Sunderland Churches.
In his sermon, Lord Williams spoke of the power of love and partnerships that contributed to more than £500,000 being raised in the North East towards Christian Aid's development work.
"Nothing will truly, lastingly be achieved without partnership and friendship," he said.
Dr Williams also praised the dedication of volunteers who give up their time to support the charity and its fundraising activities.
"Love is to be swept up by a tide of energy so enormous that it can be frightening," he said.
"We are involved in Christian Aid not through a stern sense of duty but through a sense that we are sharing in God's project, God's life-giving plan. God calls upon our volunteers and our partners to share in his work."
He added: "What we are celebrating is something that we pray will deepen and flourish within us all."
Judith Sadler, Christian Aid's regional manager, said: "This event was a huge affirmation of the significant work that is done by Christian Aid's volunteers and partners in the North East. They do amazing work. The service was a reminder of the theological basis to the work that we do."
The service was attended by a number of dignitaries from around the region, including the Right Reverend Mark Bryant, Bishop of Jarrow, who gave the final blessing.