British Baptists Engage in Olympic Mission Outreach
The Olympics will be held from July 27 to Aug. 12; the Paralympic Games will run from Aug. 29 to Sept. 9.
The Baptist Union of Great Britain (BUGB) is one of the sponsors of the initiative, known as the "More than Gold" network, and is working to help Baptist churches to "seize the moment."
More than Gold is "a consortium of churches and Christian agencies working together as a single response to the Olympics," according to Ian Bunce, head of BUGB's mission department.
The initiative collates information and resources to help local churches to, among other things, host approximately 500 athletes' families, provide 5,000 volunteers, provide one million drinks, hold 2,000 creative arts events and host 100 big screen events.
"We also have a lot of Olympic chaplains working at the venues," Bunce told the Baptist World Alliance. "Street pastors, who have strong Baptist roots, are also very heavily involved. We have had someone working in London full time for the past 18 months to help the church to get ready to welcome the world."
The lead chaplain for the Olympics is John Boyers, former chaplain for the Manchester United soccer club, who is leading a multi-faith chaplaincy team.
Baptist churches are invited by BUGB to provide volunteers for the service and hospitality programs; to engage with their community through guest events, sports outreach and creative arts; and to join other churches to run community festivals and hospitality centers.
Churches are being encouraged to organize events around the Torch Run relays throughout the U.K. leading up to the opening of the Olympic Games.
The route takes the Olympic Torch through more than 1,000 communities and within 10 miles of most of the U.K.'s population.
Events that churches may host include large screen festivals, barbecues, street parties, picnics, breakfasts, children's games, sports quizzes and sport competitions.
"The Olympic Torch Relay can be used as a catalyst by hundreds of churches to mobilize united and creative prayer for their communities and the nations," according to BUGB.
Baptists are also encouraged to welcome and use the resources of short-term church mission teams that are visiting London from other countries leading up to and after the games.
BUGB has also partnered with BMS World Mission and the Baptist Union of Wales to produce Undefeated, a resource designed for a one-hour church service "to celebrate the faith and excellence of Paralympians, address issues of global injustice, and improve (the churches') inclusion of people with disabilities."
The Paralympic Games are an international multisport event for athletes with a physical disability.
The aims of Undefeated are to enable Baptists to discover what the Bible says about disability, to celebrate the contributions made by people with disabilities in British Baptist churches, to become more inclusive in their welcome toward people with disabilities, to be inspired by the faith of athletes who compete in the Paralympics, and to remember international issues of justice and disability.