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29 February 2012

2012: What's going on?

2012: What's going on?

With so much going on in 2012, you may be feeling slightly overwhelmed. But as many of the nationwide events provide brilliant scope for evangelism we don’t want you to miss out. Claire Musters shares this practical guide to what’s being planned.

More Than Gold

If you are a sports fanatic, simply wanting to reach out to your community or active in the creative arts, then the opportunities the Games open up to your church are endless. With 90 per cent of the population expected to watch the Games, and the extensive media coverage there will be, putting on events with an Olympic theme will be an easy way to connect with your neighbourhood.

More Than Gold, an umbrella organisation representing the main denominations, was set up to help churches make the most of the Games. Whatever size of church you belong to, and wherever you are in the country, there are things you can do. In the run-up to the Games, guest events can help you make links with other sports-interested people. These could include a sports quiz or a sports tournament with a dinner and guest speaker after. Work with events you already do – if you hold holiday clubs why not put on an Olympic-themed one during Easter? You could also offer volunteers to host an athlete’s family or provide accommodation for an overseas mission team member. The latter are supporting local churches as they seek to reach out – so if your church would like their help contact More Than Gold. Your church could also team up with other local churches to put on community festivals – timed for key points in the Games, such as the Torch Relay or opening or closing ceremony. These could include fun, all-age games and even art and theatre performances.

David Willson, CEO, is excited about the possibilities: “The world’s premier sport event is going to see one of the largest interchurch initiatives in the history of the UK. It is going to open the eyes of the public, local authorities, government and the media as to how significant churches can be in serving their community. It is too good an opportunity for any church to miss.”

London’s Burning is an initiative seeking to prepare the spiritual atmosphere around the Olympic site. If prayer and/or mission are your focus why not get involved? Project director, Rosy Ashley, says: “2012 is an immensely exciting time for London and the UK and we have a commitment to ensure God’s love is released on the streets.” London’s Burning has partnered with Burn 24-7 to hold 30 days of non-stop worship and prayer starting on 14 July and running throughout the Olympics. They are also working with Healing on the Streets to send healing teams out to sites during the Olympics. Pentecost Sunday, 27 May, will see 9,000 worshippers gather at Leyton Orient Football Stadium next to the Olympic Park, to hold a unique, one-off day of prayer and worship.


The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Lunch

For those that love hospitality, why not jump on board a large, national celebration and host a Big Jubilee Lunch? Up to six million people are expected to take part in the fourth annual Big Lunch on Sunday, 3 June, which is now an official part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations. The Eden Project, which organises the Big Lunch each year, has asked HOPE to help mobilise churches to get involved. HOPE encourages local churches to be involved in community and do more mission together, in word and action. As one of the few institutions in nearly every single
town, village and city it is hoped that church members will use creative ways to serve their neighbours, working with them to hold a once-in-a-lifetime street party that will be remembered for decades.

The Queen’s Chaplain is writing a special Grace to be said at the start of the Big Jubilee Lunch – the nearest thing we’ve had to being a nation at prayer since 1942. Plans are being made for the Grace to be televised at the start of the Big Jubilee Lunch on giant TV screens around the country. Roy Crowne, executive director of HOPE: “The Diamond Jubilee is a major opportunity for churches to join with their communities to host a Big Jubilee Lunch in
a local street. Link with HOPE so that what you do locally has the impact of a national campaign, attracting maximum publicity.”


Pentecost Festival
Those interested in media, the arts, technology, comedy, film, debates and worship and prayer will want to get involved in Pentecost Festival, taking place during 18–27 May. There is so much going on: Open Source, the
Festival’s new media and technology event, a day of Festival Fun in Hyde Park, and a spectacular evening of worship with Hillsong, HTB and Jesus House. The largest Christian-led festival in London, it is co-ordinated by Share Jesus International in partnership with other Christian organisations. As well as praying for the festival, the team needs volunteers so if you enjoy working behind the scenes or upfront meeting people consider working with them. Team leader Eunice Obianagha comments: “This is going to be a big year for the Church… We’re really excited and hope Pentecost Festival will be a good representation of God’s love for the people of London.”


Global Day of Prayer (GDOP)

If you have a heart for prayer you really won’t want to miss this event. On 29 September at Wembley Stadium GDOP London are hoping to gather 85,000 people to come before God and ask for His divine intervention in the affairs of our nation. The initiative is an inter-denominational event and a growing number of leaders are supporting it. They want to see people from every town and city sending representatives so that the whole nation
can come together to pray and also tell stories of what God has done in all the initiatives during this jam-packed year. This is definitely an exciting year – decide what you can be a part of and then get stuck into the opportunities it opens up for you and your church to impact your community.


Timeline of events

18–27 May
– Pentecost Festival at venues across central London
26 May
– London’s Burning prayer and worship event at Leyton Orient Football Stadium
3 June
– Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Lunch
– International missions teams over to help church outreach initiatives
14 July–12 August
– London’s Burning non-stop 24/7 worship and prayer at The Cornerstone
27 July–12 August
– The Olympics
29 August–9 September
– The Paralympics
29 September
– Global Day of Prayer at Wembley stadium

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