In April, elite athletes from around the world will descend upon the Gold Coast for the 2018 Commonwealth Games. James O’Callaghan looks at some of the activities Beyond Gold Gold Coast (GC) has planned to ensure the legacy of the games lasts beyond the closing ceremony.
A partnership between local churches and mission agencies, Beyond Gold GC aims to maximise a Christian presence before, during and after the games by equipping and enabling churches to make a real difference to their community, for the sake of the gospel.
Gail Aiken—Beyond Gold GC Project Manager—says in developing the organisation, the team looked at the impact of the 2014 Commonwealth Games upon churches in Glasgow and decided to take their focus one step further.
“We saw the potential for resourcing the church with something that allows them to engage with this fantastic occasion,” says Gail.
Churches around the Gold Coast have recently received permission to broadcast the opening ceremony live, which Gail says is a great opportunity to hold a community festival.
“We are encouraging churches to visit the Beyond Gold GC website and download an array of resources, including Top 10 Practical Tips to Make Your Community Festival a Success.”
Another event is the Easter United celebration, the first event to be held at the Gold Coast Cultural Precinct.
The event, which will include a traditional service, entertainment and a contemporary service will kick start an arts festival that will run all over the Gold Coast.
“The festival will include artists, street evangelism and flash mobs,” says Gail.
Highlights of the Beyond Gold GC program include an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the world’s longest prayer chain; activities aimed at children and youth; opportunities for individuals to host volunteers, families of athletes or general games visitors; and a partnership with Chaplains Watch to improve priest chaplaincy.
According to Hannah Johnson—Coordinator of Chaplaincy and the Multifaith Centre at the Commonwealth Games Village—the church guide is a fantastic way for local congregations to promote their services during the games.
“We are collating a list of services and activities that are available to athletes and their families which will be included in referrals,” she said.
“This will be part of the legacy beyond the games.”
Hannah says the Commonwealth Games would also shine the spotlight on the often unsung heroes of our sporting culture, sports chaplains.
“There are 12 sports chaplains from a number of different countries directly involved in the games. But Australia-wide, there are more than 10 000 volunteer sports chaplains who are taking pastoral care out of the church and into the community.”
When asked about her vision for the Gold Coast beyond the Games, Gail says she wants a united church: “Not just in Queensland, but right
around the nation.”
To find out more about Beyond Gold GC, visit beyondgoldgc.com.au