As athletes prepare to compete in the 2012 Summer Olympics and the City of London gets ready to host the games, churches in the United Kingdom are also gearing up for the international event.
Churches across the U.K. plan to use the Olympics to reach out to international visitors and to their own communities. The initiative is called More Than Gold.
Jon Burns, More Than Gold's U.K. director, says: “The world is coming to London and the churches here are getting ready. But we need hundreds of mission teams from the U.S. and elsewhere to help us make the most of this historic opportunity.”
More than 4 million international visitors are expected to invade London for the Summer Olympics. More Than Gold plans to hand out 3 million cups of water and will run an outreach at main transport hubs and pedestrian corridors.
Simultaneously, more than 3,000 churches plan to use the games to reach out to their own communities. This will include festivals with big screens showing the Olympics, plus music, food and activities for the whole family.
In order to reach out to so many people, more than 3,000 mission and service team members are needed to work with local churches throughout the U.K. during the games. This includes many from overseas.
“The opportunity is too vast for the churches of the U.K. alone. Our plea to our fellow American believers is ‘come on over and help us’. Many visitors will have no idea who Jesus really is and that is equally true of many who live here,” Burns explains. “Let’s join hands in unity to reach out with the good news.”
Construction of the London 2012 Olympic Stadium
on April 27 (Magnus Manske)
Mission teams who work with More Than Gold will have accreditation, be able to be linked to host churches and have access to affordable accommodation. There is also an optional preparation conference in London for mission team leaders.
“Those coming on mission might find themselves serving at a hospitality center, sharing their testimony on the streets, or joining in games with children. There is something everyone can do,” Burns assures.
More Than Gold has been around since the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. It provides a flag for united faith-based outreach, hospitality and service, and also an interface between the event’s organizing committee and the churches.
The initiative was established in the U.K. in 2008 in preparation of the 2012 London games. It has the support of “all main denominations” and more than 60 Christian organizations and mission agencies.
The London Summer Olympics will run from July 27 through Aug. 12, 2012. The Paralympics will follow from Aug. 29 through Sept. 9.
For information on raising a mission team for the London 2012 Olympics, visit www.morethangold.org.uk/missionteams.