Churches get set for Olympics outreach

The umbrella organisation pulling together evangelistic efforts for the London 2012 Olympics has just embarked on its last church training tour before the big event begins in just a few months.

More than Gold's nine-week tour will give churches in 15 cities a final heads up on effective engagement during the Games and the Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

The Get Set training days will give churches valuable advice on how to prepare high quality activities and serve their communities.

Sessions will cover how to serve as lay chaplains at key transport hubs or as 'Games Pastors', how to run successful festivals and big screen events, and how to use the torch relay to engage with the community.

The tour began in Sussex and in the coming weeks will visit Cardiff, Glasgow, Belfast as well as the English cities of Reading, Stoke, Bath, Gateshead, Barnsley, Weymouth, Bolton Stevenage, Nottingham, plus three London venues.

David Willson, chief executive of More Than Gold, said: "For people who live a distance from Olympic venues, who are based near to the route of the Olympic Torch Relay - which most of the population are, or who can't afford the time to be official 2012 volunteers, these training days are for them.

"They will inform and empower the Church to find new and renewed ways of serving, being hospitable and engaging with their local community not only during the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and the Summer Games but for many years to come."

James Parker, Catholic Executive Coordinator for the 2012 Games, said community engagement would be a measure of the Games' success and how much they were a "wise use of taxpayers' money"

"Our churches continue, whether they believe it or not, to be the heartbeat of local communities," he said.

"If we are well prepared to engage with the Games, which is the purpose of More Than Gold's Get Set training days in cities across the UK this spring, then we can inspire our communities afresh.

"Christianity will also be seen to be more relevant, and even attractive, to others as churches engage with this summer's events.

"The Christian community at large, like never before, is being offered a very rare opportunity to once again establish a firm grounding in the market square. Let's not miss this God-given chance."

Carol Ryan from a parish in Bournemouth attended the first training day. She said: “I have learnt so much today that I really need to come back for more, so I'll try and go to the day in Weymouth."

For further information and to register on the Get Set Training Days please visit: