High hopes for London Olympics outreach after Vancouver success

Christians planning large-scale outreach during the 2012 Olympic Games in London have been given a boost after hearing positive reports from churches involved in the recently concluded Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

A delegation from More than Gold UK has just returned from Vancouver, where they met Christians from some of the 350 churches involved in outreach during the Games.

It is the greatest number of churches to have taken part in mission during any Olympic Games under the More Than Gold banner.

The Vancouver churches ran more than a dozen programmes which served athletes, trainers and the thousands of visitors the city throughout the Games.

The outreach included providing chaplains for the athletes’ villages, particularly in the wake of the tragic death of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili, and handing cups of free coffee and hot chocolate at transport hubs across the city.

Leading the chaplaincy team in Vancouver was Dave Wells, the General Superintendent of the Pentecostal Assemblies of God.

He explained, “Sensitive pastoral care is the often unseen thread that holds everything together at the Olympic Games.

“In few other places can the outcome of years of intense and focused discipline result in such an overwhelming sense of loss or of joy depending on the outcome of one event. This is true for both athlete and trainer.

“We are there offering support to those who require spiritual assistance to process every part of this journey.”

The UK delegation included representatives from the Church of England, The Salvation Army, the Catholic Church, the Pentecostal Church and Vineyard.

Local Christians told delegation leader and More Than Gold CEO David Willson that churches were “united as never before” to welcome and serve people as a result of the Games.

He said: “We have been witnessing longstanding barriers and misunderstandings being broken down around us. This shows the potential for UK churches as they plan to make the most of all that the 2012 Games offer the church through programmes of outreach, hospitality and service.”

Some of the delegation members attended the gold medal ceremony of Britain’s winning skeleton racer Amy Williams.

One delegate said afterwards: “The thought of twenty or more occasions like this on home territory in 2012 will have a profoundly uplifting effect on our nation, and especially our young people, and could deeply inspire us for years to come.”

More than Gold is inviting UK churches to serve alongside the London Olympics Organising Committee (LOCOG) and make the most of the opportunity for outreach during the 2012 Games.

Mr Willson said: “As we prepare for 2012, our hope is at least three thousand churches across the UK will mobilise with the work of More Than Gold to help best serve the nations of the world as they arrive on our shores.”

© 2010 Christian Today. All rights reserved.

Courtesy of Christian Today at http://www.christiantoday.com/article/high.hopes.for.london.olympics.outreach.after.vancouver.success/25465.htm

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