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13 August 2012

The Church and the Games: An "outstanding success"

The Church and the Games: An "outstanding success"

What a fortnight it was. As the UK welcomed the world through its doors, the nation was swept up in the euphoria of our greatest performance in the Olympic Games in over a century.

Finishing in third place behind China and the USA, with a tally of 65 medals including 29 gold, London 2012 surpassed everyone's expectations.

But it's the collective sense of national pride and the spirit of volunteering which has been one of the highlights of the Games.

And the Church was right there in the midst of it, in what was the largest ever Christian response to the Olympics any host nation has seen.

David Willson, CEO of More Than Gold – the agency which rallied churches to get stuck into the Games, said: "Churches across the UK have stepped out to run events, large and small, including big screen festivals, fun days, kids clubs and more.

"And time after time they have experienced outstanding success – by way of the quality of what they have done and the numbers that turned up."

David, who has been involved with five past Summer and Winter Olympic Games, added that by getting involved and running events, churches have helped to raise their profile and credibility within their communities, giving them a "fresh confidence to take into the future".

The Games have also fostered a renewed sense of unity. "There is going to be an enduring legacy as the result of churches who had not worked together before discovering the benefit of doing so," David said.

Jon Burns, More Than Gold's UK director, told 2K Plus that the Games had also helped bring many underused churches back to life, as well as bring communities together.

"We've been deeply encouraged. Churches that went for it have seen incredible results in their community."

But it's not over yet, with the Paralympics opening ceremony taking place on 29 August, it is hoped that the Church will once again celebrate the triumphs expected to take place during the upcoming tournament.

David Willson said: "We hope every church that's been busy during the Olympics will get involved during the Paralympics. And that those who didn't quite catch the vision of using a major sport event to reach people in their local communities will be encouraged to do so. After all, this could be the greatest legacy of London 2012 for the churches."

For more articles and stories on the Olympics please go to our special Olympics webpage