Olympic Flame Witness Climaxes in London
27 July 2012 London, United Kingdom [Kirsten Øster-Lundqvist / Catherine Anthony Boldeau / Serena Francis / BUC News] Also a BUC News Video Report
As the 8000 mile Olympic flame tour of the British Isles hit London this week, Adventist church members were well prepared to take the opportunity to share their faith with both Londoners and tourists lining the route.
"This is the best welcome we have had," commented members of the Olympic procession as they crossed the bridge into the Borough of Hounslow on Tuesday, 24 July. The sun was out in full force as Adventurers and Pathfinders lined the street. Pastor Maureen Rock, who was invited by the council to attend, was very enthusiastic about the opportunity for her churches to be part of the community celebration. "It's important that as a church we can take part in community celebrations and that people see that Christians can have fun too." Pastor Rock also invited other Adventist congregations in the area to be part of the day. Borough Councillor, Ruth Cadbury, expressed that the council was happy to welcome the churches to take part, citing that it was important for faith groups to be included. Church members and pastors alike were happily chatting with passers-by as the Pathfinders practised their drum roll. As the torch approached, the drum core led the festivities, and police, officials, entertainers and the torchbearer alike greeted the Adventurers and Pathfinders as the disciplined youths stood to attention. Following the torch relay, the members moved to a nearby park to engage the community in heath outreach. While people exercised in the park to Christian music, South England Conference Health Ministries director, Elsie Staple, sat in the shade and measured people's blood pressure, also performing blood and workout checks. As clearly seen in a BUC News video report, taking the lead in Hounslow helped the churches to build relationships with the local community and with each other through outreach. "The members were true ambassadors for Christ" concludes Pastor Rock.
And it is not just in Hounslow were members have been active. The same evening, Tyler Saunders, a 29-year-old Paralympic hopeful and member of Chiswick Adventist church, carried the Olympic torch through the streets of Ealing. Tyler was heralded as a local hero, and was selected by Lloyds TSB to be a torchbearer for his commitment and dedication to his sport (basketball), and for the inspiration of his peers through his coaching of the Junior Teams within his club. "I used to play able-bodied basketball in school," said Tyler "and then I found out about the wheelchair game through word of mouth and discovered a local team that trained not far from me." Friends and family gathered for this proud moment, to see Tyler wheel down the streets carrying the torch. According to his father, being born without his left leg has never stopped Tyler from striving for achievement, and his actions have clearly been an inspiration to others.
The next day 25 members of the Willesden Adventist church accompanied the torch relay through the Borough of Brent and gave out 1,200 special Olympic editions of LIFE.info magazines along the route and also at the Celebrate Brent big party at the King Edward VII Park in Wembley afterwards. "It was great to see the members take up the Gospel Commission and utilize these public events as outreach opportunities," stated an excited Pastor Des Boldeau.
Members of Ilford church were also in on the act as the flame passed the outside of their church on the route between Redbridge and Bexley. Members handed out around 700 goodie bags to spectators including a bottle of water, sweets for the children, and the book 'Your Friends, the Seventh-day Adventists'.
Members sang inspirational songs outside the church gates to encourage the crowd before the torch passed, the Pathfinders and Adventurers waved their flags and the Ilford Drum Corps played their drums. Serena Francis states, "Ilford church certainly made their joyful presence known that day!"
The London Live Community Choir were not waiting for any torch but kicked off their Olympic celebration in Notting Hill on Sabbath, 21 July with a concert in a packed venue. "Rather than just talking about community, we are in the middle of community" said Pastor Paul King-Brown, reflecting on the weekend and the Sunday performance at the Westway Notting Hill Community Festival in particular. He was especially glad to see how the non-believers in the choir not only enjoyed performing at the church concert on Sabbath, but also gladly accepted the invitation to sing in a church on a Sunday morning.
In a gathering of friends, community members and random people simply walking in off the street, more than 200 people filled the church for the Sabbath afternoon performance. As with their three previous concerts, £500 raised at the concert was donated to the Dalgarno Neighbourhood Trust, which works extensively with young people and poverty in the local West London area. Pastor Paul's short gospel message during the service tied well into the Olympic theme of community, and he reminded all the attendees that the church comes together every Sabbath afternoon, and that everyone is welcome. Sunday saw the choir ministering to another congregation that worships in the same venue, followed by a performance in the park for Westway Development Trust's Community Festival.
For a selection of photos from these events visit the BUC Picture Gallery. [tedNEWS]
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