Bishop and school children lay foundation stone for Durham's new £2m diocesan centre

(Photo: Keith Blundy)Bishop Paul with students, Callum & Grace from Benedict Biscop, Chloe and Lauren from St Anne's and Amy and Niamh for St Margaret's

The foundation stone has been laid for the Diocese of Durham's new £2m headquarters.

The new diocesan centre is due to open early 2015 and will be the new home for diocesan teams currently based in Auckland Castle and Carter House in Durham. The centre will also house the Durham base of the North East Religious Resources Centre as well as hosting meetings and training events.

The Bishop of Durham, the Right Reverend Paul Butler, was joined by local school children for a short service of dedication.

They buried a time capsule next to the foundation stone containing items from children at three schools in the diocese, as well as a copy of the bishop's inauguration speech.

Bishop Butler said the time capsule would give future generations a clear picture of what Christians today think is important.

The diocesan centre is being built at Stonebridge, near Nevilles Cross, Durham.

"It is a very powerful, symbolic moment, it says this building is happening and we will be moving here and we are building on the foundation of Jesus Christ," says Bishop Butler.

(Photo: Keith Blundy)Bishop Paul with the foundation stone

Grace Squires, of Benedict Biscop school in Sunderland, was among the children taking part.

She said: "It's exciting and a privilege that our school has been chosen."

The foundation stone was donated by Gentoo Construction. Managing director Allan Thompson, said the stone would "leave a lasting legacy at the new diocesan offices".

"The laying of the stone was a great occasion to bring together the local community, schools, staff of the diocese and the bishop to showcase the progress being made on site and celebrate the future of the community," he said.

Colin Price, of the working group overseeing the project, said the project was on track to be completed before Christmas ahead of a move-in at the start of next year.

"We are really grateful to Gentoo for the generous donation of the foundation stone that we have just set in place," he said.

"Already the shape of the building can be seen from the steel work that is in place. The foundation stone signifies that we are now starting to work on the outside skin of the building."