Monday, July 16, 2012

More Than Gold: The ecumenical, social gospel outreach at the London Olympics and Paralympics

Can two walk together, except they be agreed? Amos 3:3

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? II Corinthians 6:14

And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. Ephesians 5:11

I'm always suspicious when I see the word "engage" used in connection with ostensibly Christian churches or ministries. "Engagement" seems to be the 21st-century version of "appeasement," a word that has had a very negative connotation since the failure of the Munich Agreement in 1938 to achieve lasting "peace in our time."

More Than Gold is an ostensibly Christian outreach ministry that will be present in London for the Olympic (July 27-August 12) and Paralympic (August 29-September 9) Games of 2012. According to their Why We Exist statement (bold in original):

The churches in the UK have a once in a lifetime opportunity thanks to the 2012 Games being awarded to London. We are here to be a one-stop-shop that helps the churches seize the moment.

Our mission

Put simply, the reason we exist is -

To enable the UK churches to engage with the 2012 Games

Our vision

When the dust has finally settled we hope to have fulfilled our dream for the 2012 Games to have enabled –

Thousands of churches to taste the excitement of reaching
their community in fresh and ongoing ways in Jesus’ name


We are doing it by –
•Helping people catch the vision for the impact that can be made and the role they can play
•Making connections between the many agencies and thousands of churches that can make it happen
•Coordinating the production of the resources and action needed

Serving our land
All too often the churches are seen negatively. As out of touch and only interested in themselves. The 2012 Games provides a unique opportunity for UK churches to be seen for what they really are.

By playing their part in the programmes of outreach, hospitality and service every church can help tell a different story. And waken fresh interest in who it is that makes us different and how they can know him for themselves.
From How we work (bold in original):

More Than Gold is like scaffolding – existing on a temporary basis so something permanent can exist.

Our ‘permanent’ dream is the legacy we want to see left behind – a growing and more relevant Church that is continuing to engage with its community through sports and service.

Our structure
As ‘scaffolding’, More Than Gold has already created a structure involving over 200 people from churches and organisations. They make up a series of strategic Programme Teams, one centralised Executive Committee and a Board of Trustees.

To provide maximum support for churches we are developing host coordinators in each of the UK’s nations and regions. Their role is to –
•Host ‘engagement events’ for local leaders this coming October (2011)
•Help local churches to explore ways to work together

Our approach
We serve the Church by -
•Being a catalyst for activity. The word describes us perfectly – ‘Catalyst: something that causes an important event to happen’
Casting vision so as to open eyes to the opportunities – based on what has happened at past major sports events and the special opportunities 2012 offers
•Working to connect Christians and churches across the country and globe – generating strength through unity and partnership.
•Working to coordinate the opportunities and resources – reducing duplication and maximising opportunities

Throughout we echo the values of Hope 08, one of our key partners. That the good news about Jesus will be expressed in both word and action.
And just who is involved in this outreach? Our people and our sponsors (Bold in original):

Who is doing the work?
The structure of More Than Gold involves -

The Board of Trustees
They give advice and accountability to the CEO and the Executive Team as well as taking legal responsibility for the Charity.

The Executive Committee
They make sure the direction and strategy is clear, coordinated and adds value to the church. It is made up of representation denominational representatives and those representing key networks.

The Programme Committee
This is responsible for delivering the content and resources needed for churches to engage with the Games. It is made up Progamme Team Leaders and More Than Gold's Global Sponsors.

The Administrative Working Group
This is mainly made up of the More Than Gold staff team. They serve the CEO and Executive and Programme Committees by making sure priorities are clearly identified and the right actions taken.

The Programme Teams
These are doing the work across the large number of More Than Gold’s programmes and initiatives.
Now we get down to details--naming names, starting with Committees (bold in original):

The Executive Committee
James Parker (Chair) Catholic Executive Coordinator for the 2012 Games
Sarah Jane Alley (Vice Chair) The Salvation Army More Than Gold Coordinator
Dave Willson CEO More Than Gold
Denita Beetge Director of Service and Mission Team
Janet Binns Church of England Diocese of Oxford
Matt Bird Make it Happen
Francis Brienen United Reformed Church
Ian Bunce Baptist Union of Great Britain
Jon Burns More Than Gold UK Director
David Campbell Elim
Roy Crowne HOPE Together
Duncan Green Church of England Olympic and Paralympic Executive Coordinator
Ish Lennox The Methodist Church of Great Britain Olympics and Paralympics Project Coordinator
David Linley More Than Gold London Director/Director London City Mission
Peter Meadows More Than Gold Communications Director
Abigail Malortie New Frontiers International
Richard Odejayi Redeemed Christian Church of God
Matt Oliver More Than Gold, Operations Director
Rudi Page Church of God of Prophecy
David Pile London Baptist Association Olympic and Paralympic Church Engagement Coordinator
Matthew Porter Transform Newham Olympics Liaison Officer
Brian Robinson New Testament Church of God
Anders Rune Swedish and Lutheran Churches
Colin Stewart Seventh Day Adventists
Paul Winyard The Methodist Church of Great Britain
Katy Martin-Smith More Than Gold Executive Assistant and Project Manager

The Programme Committee
Dave Willson CEO More Than Gold
Sarah Jane Alley The Salvation Army More Than Gold Coordinator
Colin Anderson finance
Simon Barrington Samaritans Purse
Jon Burns More Than Gold UK Director
Andy Frost Share Jesus International
Jane Holloway World Prayer
David Linley More Than Gold London Director/Director London City Mission
Barry Mason Youth For Christ
Peter Meadows More Than Gold Communications Director
Yan Nicolls YWAM England Olympic Development Officer
Dave Oakley Ambassadors in Sport
Matt Oliver More Than Gold, Operations Director
Tim Pilkington Shell
Eric Thompson Deo Goria Trust
Mathew Van Duyvenbode Bible Society
Stuart Weir Verite Sport
Marty Woods Fusion Youth and Community

Administrative Working Group
Dave Willson CEO More Than Gold
Jon Burns More Than Gold UK Director
David Linley More Than Gold London Director/Director London City Mission
Peter Meadows More Than Gold Communications Director
Matt Oliver More Than Gold, Operations Director
James Parker Catholic Executive Coordinator for the 2012 Games
Keith Proctor Christians in Sport Managing Director
Board and members (bold in original):

How More Than Gold is governed
More Than Gold is legally accountable to the Charity Commission and morally accountable to the churches of the UK. To meet these responsibilities there is –

The Board of Trustees
The Board of Trustees provides advice and accountability to the CEO and Executive Team, as well as taking legal responsibility for the charity. The members are –
•Lord Mawhinney, Chairman
•Rt.Rev Monsignor John Armitage, Vicar General
•Baroness Elizabeth Berridge
•Dr Stephanie Cook MBE
•Rev Dr David Cornick General Secretary, General Secretary, Churches Together in England
•Lynn Green, Founder of YWAM UK and Ireland
•Philip Green, former CEO of United Utilities (2006-2011), chairman Sentebale, director Business in the Community
•Pastor Agu Irukwu, Senior Pastor of Jesus House
•The Rt Revd Adrian Newman, Bishop of Stepney
•Rev Nims Obunge MBE, Chief Executive Officer, The Peace Alliance
•Keith Proctor (Company Secretary), Managing Director Christians in Sport
•Andy Rogers, Company Director and former banker. London 2012 Forum and Age UK
•Sue Radford, Media and Charity consultant
•Paul Szkiler, Chairman of Truestone Asset Management Ltd and founder of A Call to Business
•Major Ivor Telfer, Director Employment Plus UK and Assistant Secretary for Programme The Salvation Army

The Members of More than Gold
The charity was established on behalf of the Christian community by the following members –
•The Archbishops’ Council of the Church of England
•The Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales
•The Free Churches Group
•Churches Together in England
•The African and Caribbean Evangelical Alliance
•The Evangelical Alliance
•The London Church Leaders Group
•Transform Newham
•Christians in Sport
Our partners and sponsors:
Alpha
Ambassadors in Sport
Baptist Union of Great Britain
Bible Society
CARE (Christian Action Research and Education)
Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales
CCPAS (Churches’ Child Protection Advisory Service)
Christians in Sport
Christian Vision
Church of England
Churches Together in England
Compassion UK
Christian Publishing and Outreach (CPO)
Deo Gloria Trust
The Jerusalem Trust
London City Mission
The Methodist Church in Britain
New Wine
The Redeemed Christian Church of God
Billy Graham Evangelistic Association
Stewardship
The Salvation Army
Seventh-day Adventist Church
Traidcraft
Transform Newham
United Christian Broadcasters
United Reformed Church
yesHeis
Youth with a Mission
Christian Vision for Men
Evangelical Alliance
United Business Machines
The reader will note the mixture of legitimate Christian ministries with compromising evangelicals, dominionists, apostate mainline churches, and others, e.g., the Roman Catholic Church, proclaiming an outright false gospel. The ecumenical aspect of More Than Gold has been present since its beginning (bold and link in original):

How it all began
The Christian community has been involved with the world’s major sporting events for over 40 years. In the early years denominations and agencies mainly worked independently of each other.

Then in the 80’s and early 90’s a number of sports mission agencies helped the local churches develop partnerships. These made it possible for the churches to offer a wide range of officially sanctioned initiatives including –
•Giving out water to the crowds
•Hosting athletes’ families
•Providing chaplains in the athletes’ villages
•Staging events with creative arts performers
•Contributing translators and literature resources

Then came More Than Gold
In the build up to the 1996 Atlanta Games an umbrella Christian agency, Quest Atlanta, saw the need for a uniting name and identity.

This would provide –
A flag for faith-based outreach, hospitality and service without overstepping any denominational or doctrinal boundaries
An interface between the sports event’s organising committee and the churches

As a result, the name ‘More Than Gold’ has been used by the Christian community since the 1996 Atlanta Summer Games for events including –
•Commonwealth Games
•Pan American Games
•All-Africa Games
•Indian Ocean Games
•Olympic Games and Paralympics

This has led to the churches playing an ever increasing role in assisting the official local organising committee to implement programmes associated with the Games.

The origin of More Than Gold UK
A series of key events led to establishing More Than Gold in the UK.
•In July 2005 the world learned London was to be the host city for 2012 Olympics and Paralympics. And Christian Leaders throughout the UK started to discuss their response to this unprecedented opportunity
•In March 2006, a number of denominations and organisations met to discuss the establishment of More Than Gold as the key way to engage with the Games
•In January 2007, More Than Gold was launched at Westminster Central Hall. Those present included Lord Coe, Tessa Jowell MP, Archbishop Rowan Williams and Archbishop Cormack Murphy-O’Connor
•In 2008 More Than Gold was established as a Charitable Trust under the chairmanship of Lord Brian Mawhinney. With the CEO, David Willson, appointed later that year
•In 2009, the Executive Committee was established
•In July 2009, the vision was launched to over 300 leaders from denominations and organisations meeting at Wembley Stadium for the More Than Gold Engagement Conference
The More than Gold pages on Your Church & the Games, Outreach, Hospitality, and Service emphasize the church as community service agency, which seems to be a 21st-century version of the 20th-century social gospel--it seems all right on a human level, but doing nice things for people is not the gospel. I can't find any definition of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ or doctrinal statement anywhere on the More Than Gold site, which is in keeping with the social gospel. If you define the gospel in terms of works instead of doctrine, then a doctrinal statement might lead to the "overstepping any denominational or doctrinal boundaries" mentioned above, and might impede ecumenism, which seems to be the real purpose of More Than Gold. Christians interested in reaching others with the gospel at the Olympics and Paralympics should avoid yoking themselves with More Than Gold.

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