Relay of prayers to accompany Olympic TorchMonday, May 21st, 2012
Churches of various denominations throughout the UK are being encouraged to offer prayer and praise during the 70 days of the Olympic torch relay that started from Lands End on Saturday (May 19).
Local church communities and individuals will pray at each place the torch visits.
The torch will be in Ireland on June 6 and carried by 41 Irish people. Having completed a tour around the counties in Northern Ireland, it comes south for a short symbolic visit, which reflects the success of the peace process and the all-island make-up of the Irish team for the London Olympic Games.
After a cross-border ceremony, the torch will travel on south with a civic event in Howth, a run on the Skyline roof at Croke Park and a relay around the capital.
Among the 34 named runners are top sports people and Olympian medallists and also, Cillian Kirwan aged 15. He is a pupil at St. Fintan’s High School, Sutton, which is part of the Edmund Rice Schools Trust. Nominated by Fingal County Council, the fourth year student plays U16 Gaelic football and hurling and represents his school in cross-country, and track and field athletic events. He is described as, “a natural leader and role model for all students in the school, especially those involved in sport.”
The torch will be carried for 70 days in the UK by more than 8,000 torchbearers, who will run for 300 metres each. Churches and other groups in the UK have planned parallel events. Among these is More Than Gold, which describes its aim as, “helping churches respond to the 2012 Games.”
One of its initiatives is the 70-day Prayer Relay, which tracks the same dates and venues as the official torch relay.
Jane Holloway, chair of More Than Gold’s Prayer Team said, “The Olympic torch journey will pass through over a thousand communities. We would like it to inspire a cascade of prayer and praise, with individuals and churches taking time to pray, alone and together, as it travels through their area.”
To help churches and their members seize the opportunity, More Than Gold organisers have produced a prayer guide, with ideas for before, during and after the torch arrives as well as links to suggested day-by-day prayer topics. There is also to be a physical prayer relay between the seventy locations where the Olympic torch stops overnight.
Christian leaders will receive prayers of blessing from the churches where the torch has just been and then pass them on to those in the next location.
This relay starts at Lands End by church leaders, including the Bishop of Truro. A baton full of prayers will then be taken to Plymouth, the second stop on the Olympic torch route. From there the exchange will continue from location to location throughout the whole of the UK and beyond. Among others involved in the prayer blessing exchange in their area are the Bishops of Durham, Newcastle and Whitby.
The locations already confirmed include Berwick Bridge, Plymouth’s Freedom Park, and Newcastle and Liverpool Cathedrals.
In 2007, More Than Gold was launched in Britain in the presence of Lord Coe, Tessa Jowell MP, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor and Archbishop Rowan Williams. To date, 15 denominations, ranging from the Orthodox to the Seventh Day Adventists to the black-led independent churches, are all jointly praying, planning and working to serve the 2012 Games under the banner of More Than Gold, with the Catholic Church being one of the first Christian communities to join.
More Than Gold is concentrating on three specific ways of making the most of the 2012 Games: community engagement, hospitality and service. See www.morethangold.org.uk/torchrelay
by Ann Marie Foley