London Olympics: UK Churches Serve Up Big Screens, Bibles, Street Parties

(Photo Credit: Screenshot)A map of church or Christian-related events linked related to the London Olympics is shown on the website on July 27, 2012.

Churches are running hundreds of Olympics-related events across the UK to offer practical and even inspirational help to communities, international visitors and athletes.

An organizing charity with the cooperation of multiple denominations in the UK says events run by churches include large screen festivals to be experienced by up to 500,000 people, Family Fundays, children's clubs, street parties, quiz nights, community cafes, special church celebrations and Holiday at Home for those staying home.

An easy-to-navigate Google Maps-powered map on the charity's website shows hundreds of orange markers across the UK, especially in London - with basic descriptions of events, with dates, times and contact e-mails and phone numbers.

LINK: Interactive Map for Olympic-Related Events

"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," said David Willson, CEO of the More Than Gold charity said.

"'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," he said.

"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," he added.

The Christian response also includes one effort from the UK-based Bible Society to serve Olympians directly, a bible distribution effort at the Olympic Village Religious Services Centre. Nearly 3,000 copies of Bible in English and more than 1,000 copies of Bibles and New Testaments will be available in other languages through partnerships with other Bible societies.

The offerings - 'The Sports Good News Bible' and 'The Sports Good News Gospel of Luke'- will contain special articles that help athletes consider the relationship between sports and faith.

"At past Olympics and other major sports events I've seen athletes deeply grateful for the free gift of a Bible," Willson said.
Matthew van Duyvenbode, head of advocacy at Bible Society expanded upon the Bible's relevancy to athletes.

"The Bible offers words of deep consolation, inspiration and challenge, themes which resonate with athletes from around the world. Having the opportunity to offer the scriptures in a format accessible for sports people is a strong statement that the Bible belongs at the heart of every aspect of life," he said.

More Than Gold reports that through one of program, churches are providing free accommodations for more than 350 family members of athletes who would otherwise be unable to afford to attend. The effort has been endorsed by Olympics organizers, the group said.

In addition 300 volunteer "Games Pastors," less than the 800 initially anticipated, are being stationed at transportation hubs throughout the city to help guide visitors. The Salvation Army is providing water to visitors and spectators.

The group notes there will be 700 free performances by musicians, dancers and visual artists at 30 venues in the city, including Southwark Cathedral, Westminster Abbey Green and Methodist Westminster.

Churches are carrying out these efforts with the help of more than 1,500 volunteers from 40 countries, the group said.

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