David Willson, chief executive officer of More Than Gold – the agency at the heart of helping churches and Christian volunteers serve their communities and welcome visitors during the Games – believes that thousands of churches have grown in confidence as a direct result of their involvement with the Olympics.
David says: “Churches across the UK have stepped out to run events … including big screen festivals, fun days, kids clubs … and time after time have experienced outstanding success – by way of the quality of what they have done and the numbers that turned up. The impact has been to raise the profile and credibility of churches in their communities, especially where they have joined hands to work together. This has given many a fresh confidence to take into the future."
The Queen has responded warmly to a message of Diamond Jubilee congratulation, sent on behalf of the General Assembly of the United Reformed Church; in her response, she wishes the Church well, for its own “Ruby” anniversary.
Her Majesty’s Private Secretary said, in a letter from Buckingham Palace, that the Queen much appreciated the URC’s assurance of prayers for her and the Duke of Edinburgh. “In return” the letter said, “ the Queen sends her warm good wishes to all concerned for a most successful and memorable year as you celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the inauguration of the United Reformed Church.”
URC general secretary, the Revd Roberta Rominger, expressed great pleasure. “Much care goes into the drafting of our loyal address; it is deeply gratifying to know that the Queen has received it personally and taken such care in reading it” she said. “As we sent greetings to her, on her Jubilee this year, so she has sent greetings to us – a real affirmation of our role.”
As well as medallists, the United Reformed Church has an impressive cast list of people playing key roles in the London Olympics.
Reanne Morris, aged 23, is representative to the Fellowship of United Reformed Youth from the URC’s Thames North Synod and is keenly involved at Upper Clapton Church, East London. She is a Sunday School teacher and choir member.
Reanne carried the name placard for Botswana in the Opening Ceremony and was fortunate enough to get her picture taken with the fastest man on earth – 100 metres champion Usain Bolt. She is also flag escort for the closing ceremony.
The United Reformed Church has struck gold with a third Olympic competitor from a local church having success at the Games. Anna Watkins, aged 29, took first place with her partner Kath Grainger, in the women’s double sculls, after earlier breaking the Olympic record by nearly five seconds in a qualifying heat at Eton Dorney.
Anna was brought up within Trinity Church, Leek, Staffordshire, a United Reformed and Methodist congregation. Her parents, Richard and Caroline, and her grandmother remain closely associated with the congregation.