AS thousands of athletes, volunteers, and fans throng Glasgow
for the 20th Commonwealth Games, churches throughout Scotland are
rising to the challenge.
While medals are won on the track and in stadiums across the
city, Christians have been handing out bottles of water, providing
free beds for volunteers, and showing the festival on big screens
in church halls.
The organisation More Than Gold 2014 has spent two years
encouraging churches to use the Games as a unique opportunity. Its
chief executive, Matt Oliver, said that he had been impressed by
the response: "We have got 500-plus churches across Scotland doing
something for the Games.There's a warmth to these Games which is
During the build-up, more than 250 churches on the route of the
Queen's Baton relay opened their doors to fans and passers-by, Mr
Oliver said. Now that the Games had begun, churches were opening
their doors to welcome people in to watch the opening ceremony and
highlights of the 17 sports on show.
Glasgow was even showing up the efforts of churches in London,
two years ago during the Olympics, Mr Oliver said. "It far
outweighs anything that was done, compared by size to London. Per
head, it's significantly larger."
The Salvation Army had planned to give away 100,000 bottles of
water to fans, but had already gone through so much on the first
day that it was planning to order more.
Mr Oliver said that the festival of sport was also a good
opportunity for mission. There were "around 300 Games Pastors out
there, day and night", he said. "There have been first-time
commitments of faith. There is such a buzz about it. You spend two
years convincing the Church of this moment for mission; [so] it's
such a joy to see the Church happy, and people in church."
The Provost of St Mary's Episcopal Cathedral, Glasgow, the Very
Revd Kelvin Holdsworth, said that he had used the arrival of the
Commonwealth nations as a platform to speak out against
"We had Peter Tatchell here last week, highlighting issues of
equality and justice across the Commonwealth. We are using it as a
vehicle to highlight those kind of issues, and in particular about
sex. Forty-two out of 51 Commonwealth countries still criminalise
Provost Holdsworth said that the cathedral was displaying the
Commonwealth Tapestry, an artwork created by schoolchildren from
around the Commonwealth. "I think it is a good thing for the city -
Glasgow is absolutely buzzing. Right now, it just feels like we are
at the centre of something."