More than Gold, (MTG), was delegated by LOCOG (London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games) to co-ordinate service and mission among UK Christian churches of all denominations. Founded by the Salvation Army, MTG was first represented at the Olympic Games in Atlanta, then at the Games in Sydney, Athens and Beijing.
MTG records that contributions made by UK Churches to support the Games in London – the largest ever – amounted to some 13,000 hours of voluntary service, including 160 hosts providing 2,000 nights of free hospitality (athletes of families hosted won 45 medals, including 8 golds), an estimated 500,000 attending community events run by churches from sports clinics, family fun days, children’s clubs to big screen festivals and 300 serving as Games Pastors at London’s main line rail stations. 500,000 free bottles of water were handed to visitors and some 9,100 cups of water given out during the three marathons. In addition 2,100 mission and service volunteers came from 40 countries to participate in street art, music and exhibitions throughout London boroughs (including Southwark Cathedral) and UK cities.
Over 30 men and women were nominated by their ministers to act as MTG ‘ Gold Champions ‘ in Southwark, helping to envision and co-ordinate service and mission in their churches. I was invited to be the Southwark Borough Co-ordinator for a great team. A number of us also acted as Games Pastors to be available to deal with any unexpected personal issues and needs arising, doing our beats on the main line stations each day through both the Olympics and Paralympics. We were required to wear blue waistcoats and caps which were provided with identity badges. In addition to seeking to answer some interesting questions while passing the time of day at different London rail stations two instances I especially recall were : being asked to assist an overseas lady with a baby in her arms en route to Paris in the carrying of what seemed to me to be a vast collection of outsize cases. I cannot recall handling luggage of such a size before and was amazed that I managed to do so – and collecting paper wrappers from all and sundry at Waterloo station who were offered free ice creams on arrival by South West trains. I came to understand a bit more clearly that friends do seem to be made through serving. These two experiences led to some fruitful conversations!