Catholics ‘Get Set’ for Nation’s Biggest Ever Parties

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Nine Saturdays, 15 cities, 11 choices of programme, unlimited ways of engaging. This is the message from More Than Gold, the umbrella Christian charity serving the 2012 Games, which has just begun Get Set Training Days to help churches prepare and be sufficiently trained to engage at the heart of this summer’s Diamond Jubilee and Olympic and Paralympic celebrations, possibly the largest parties ever in our nation’s history.

This is More Than Gold’s third and final tour in 2 years. The previous tours set about informing Christian communities the length and breadth of Britain as to ways to engage this summer. This present tour is about equipping the Church to be ready to serve and to answer any questions people may have.

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 3 London venues.

Those attending will have the opportunity to understand and receive a full-day’s training on:

  • serving as lay chaplains at key transport hubs and airports, or Games Pastors as they will be known,

  • how to successfully run local festivals for the Diamond Jubilee and the Summer Games, which includes how to best erect a big screen and broadcast key events, and

  • how to use sport as a tool for reaching out to others.

Provision will also be made to inform people new to More Than Gold about what they can consider doing.

Also being offered are shorter one hour training sessions on:

  • how to use the Torch Relay to impact your local community,

  • how to build a strong prayer foundation within your community, and

  • how to use an international mission team to help you engage with your community during the Games.

There will also be sessions about:

  • engaging children and youth with the Games,

  • how to best champion the cause of disability and become a more inclusive church, and

  • examining what actions churches and schools can take over Games-related issues of social justice.

Information and the many free resources shared on the training days will be applicable to all age groups and to schools, parishes and church agencies.

David Willson, CEO 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 by the British public with the 2012 Games will partly determine whether or not they are a wise use of taxpayers’ money and a success in the eyes of rest of the world.

“Our churches continue, whether they believe it or not, to be the heartbeat of local communities. 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 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.”

the Christian communities’ engagement with the 2012 Games
100 Hundred Days of Peace and honouring the Olympic Truce
Flame National Youth Congress, Wembley Arena, Saturday 24 March 2012
The Joshua Camp international tented youth village in Essex 1-13 August 2012
The John Paul II Foundation for Sport – the Catholic Church’s legacy project of the 2012 Games