HALF a million people attended events run by churches during the
Olympic and Paralympic Games, figures released by More Than Gold
suggest. The charity believes that this represents the Churches'
largest-ever engagement with the Games.
A team of 300 Games Pastors delivered more than 13,000 hours of
voluntary service to visitors, while members of athletes' families
enjoyed more than 2000 nights of free hospitality in the homes of
volunteers. More than 2100 volunteers arrived in the UK from 40
countries to aid the effort. Churches offered 440 hours of live
performances, 233 hours of street art, and 433 days of exhibitions,
produced by more than 350 people from 30 nations in 40 venues.
Attendance at events organised by churches was far higher than
expected: about 6500 attended South Buckinghamshire churches' "Run
the Race" festival, instead of the expected 2500; 4000 visited the
festival organised by Isle of Dogs churches, which had been
designed for 500.
The chief executive of More Than Gold, David Wilson, praised the
thousands of Christians who had worked together to welcome
visitors. Many churches had been "seen in a new light by their