The Vancouver 2010 Olympics engenders extreme reactions from those who condemn to those who unconditionally embrace. In one of our churches I heard a children’s story teller tell the assembled children that “the Olympics hurt poor people” and on the other hand I am barraged by a city that is covered with Olympic clichés about the Olympic spirit that would put Mr. Rogers in an insulin-induced coma, they are so syrupy sweet. Both approaches are on the one hand warranted warnings and on the other hand are basically overstated, foundation -less silliness. I want to say that many, many of our church family are engaged in pro and con Olympic activities.
There is a legitimate argument that the Olympics use money that could otherwise be directed to better concerns, such as the alleviating of poverty and the enhancing of education or even the development of small business which is the real driver of the economy. There is also a legitimate argument that the poor have benefitted in the attention that the Olympics have brought them.
I wish to introduce you to five participants in the Olympic legacy with various positions and a variety of approaches.
The first is “More than Gold”: a collaboration of churches and ministries that seek in their own way to serve the season in this city’s life. “More than Gold is mobilizing local communities for a collective effort of good works (currently there are over 36 organizations and church denominations engaged). Only together can we see transforming power of faith, hope and love in our cities. This unprecedented expression of church community – our moment to shine in generosity – offering radical hospitality.” http://www.morethangold.ca
Layne Daggett, the Vancouver Airport Chaplain and pastor at Ward Memorial Church in Vancouver, supervises and supports several associate chaplains and volunteers in caring for the needs of staff and travellers at Vancouver International. Layne notes that the Olympic air traffic will account for 11% of the overall activity at the airport during the Olympics.
Thirdly, I would like to mention “Streams of Justice” which has a strong, sincere and legitimate concern that the Games are diverting legitimate money from those in need. “Streams of Justice” is a Christian social justice organization that believes in “the relentless struggle for social justice, the unwavering affirmation of human dignity, and the joyful stance of compassionate solidarity”.
Fourth: Charis Weathers will be in Whistler as one of the 27 Christian chaplains volunteering in the various Multi-Faith Centres which are open 8 a.m. – 8 p.m., Feb. 4-28. Each facility which is shared between Christians, Buddhists, Muslims, Jews and Hindus has space for services, prayer, meditation, and counselling. Athletes and Officials are welcome to attend any of the scheduled services, to drop by for prayer or counselling, or to invite a chaplain to read Scripture with them or accompany them to their athletic event.
Lastly, I would like to commend Michelle Miller and the work of REED, (Resist Exploitation, Embrace Dignity). Michelle is part of Grandview Calvary Baptist in Vancouver. “Buying Sex is Not a Sport, is a grassroots campaign to raise awareness and effect change around sex trafficking and the 2010 Olympic Games. This campaign will spread the message broadly through community-based public forums, posting campaigns, t-shirts, buttons and your creative ideas.”