Churches more confident after London 2012

In the same way that Great Britain has gained a fresh sense of confidence through delivering a highly successful 2012 Games, the same is true for thousands of churches.

This is the view of David Willson, chief executive of More Than Gold – the agency at the heart of helping churches and Christian volunteers serve their communities and welcome visitors during the Games.

"Churches across the UK have stepped out to run events, large and small. Including big screen festivals, fun days, kids clubs and more," David said.

"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."

Having been involved with five past Summer and Winter Olympic Games, David can speak with authority on the role churches have played.

He says, "The impact has been to raise the profile and credibility of churches in their communities, especially where they have joined hands to work together. This has given many a fresh confidence to take into the future."

As a whole, the participation of the churches during the Games was far greater than had been anticipated when More Than Gold was launched, according to David Willson. He said, "We expected about 3,000 churches to get involved but believe twice as many may have done at least something for the Games."

Along with a greater confidence, many churches are also taking new relationships with their neighbouring churches into the future. Said David, "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."

However, David points to the fact that engagement with the 2012 Games for the churches is not yet over. Many are now looking to the Paralympics as an opportunity to raise the issue of disability within their congregations and the wider community.

Further opportunities for churches to reach out in the context of great sports events in Britain are the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014 and the Rugby World Cup which England will host in 2015. But for David Willson and More Than Gold it’s not just about big national and international sports events.

David says, "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."