Churches respond to the 2012 Games in record numbers
As the 2012 Games began, churches across the UK set their own record - for the highest ever level of involvement in the Olympics
As the 2012 Games began, churches across the UK set their own record - for the highest ever level of involvement in the Olympics.
Thousands of churches are running events for their communities. These include large screen festivals which have an estimated total attendance of 500,000 people. Family fundays, children's clubs, street parties, quiz nights, community cafes, special church celebrations and holidays at home for the housebound are also planned.
This response follows two years of work by More Than Gold, the agency established by all the main denominations to help churches make the most of the Games.
Its CEO, David Willson said: “This is the largest ever inter-church response in Olympic history and it will show churches at their best - serving their communities and the thousands of international visitors.”
To help people find out what is going on near them, More Than Gold has set up an interactive map showing over 600 events. This can be reached at www.morethangold.org.uk/map
David Willson added: “We have already seen hundreds of churches in action to support the Olympic Torch Relay, serving free refreshments on the streets and holding special events. In the same way, they have come up with fantastic events during the Games themselves, to support their communities, reach out to visitors and those taking part in the Games. The response is inspirational.”
In addition to events for their communities, churches are providing free accommodation for over 350 family members of athletes who would otherwise be unable to afford to attend. This is through the More Than Gold Athlete Family Homestay Programme which has the endorsement of the London Organising Committee's Inspire mark.
Also, over 300 volunteer Games Pastors will serve those passing though main transport hubs. And teams will distribute water to visitors and spectators led by The Salvation Army.
Meanwhile, almost 700 free performances by international musicians, dancers and visual artists will be enjoyed across 30 venues including Southwark Cathedral, Westminster Abbey Green and Methodist Westminster Central Hall.
The UK churches will not be doing this alone. They are being supported by over 1,500 volunteers, mostly young adults, coming from 40 countries as diverse as Austria, Australia, Brazil, Nigeria, the Czech Republic, Togo, Norway and Jamaica.