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Rugby World Cup - a golden opportunity

The third largest international event of its kind will be here in the UK in the autumn of 2015, writes Dave Chawner, the co-ordinator of an organisation created to help churches engage with the tournament

15In 2003 England snatched the glory – remember Jonny Wilkinson’s match winning kick? In 2007 against all odds England reached the final. In 2011 Wales just lost out in a nail biting semi-final. All this drama and passion will be on our doorstep as England host Rugby World Cup 2015.

48 games in 13 venues from Newcastle to Exeter and Cardiff to Brighton spread over just six weeks. 20 international squads using 50 training venues. Local festivals of rugby in every major town & city. Half a million fans from 100 different countries. Wall to wall media coverage.

Here is another golden opportunity for the church to engage with a national event and with its local community as it did around the Olympics. And Engage 2015 is here to help, providing a menu of ideas and resources many of which can be built into existing activities.

Backed by the denominations and many of the organisations involved with More Than Gold, we are working closely with the tournament delivery body, England Rugby 2015, to provide hosting for participants’ families, chaplaincy to the squads, games pastors and volunteers.

At the local level there will be opportunity to develop partnerships to screen matches, host community festivals, experiment with touch rugby, stage quizzes and speaker events, minister to locally based squads & their supporters, and much more.

Irrespective of limitations on resources there will be ways in which your church can link into your community during RWC 2015. Don’t risk missing out on these God given possibilities to serve and to share. Start thinking and planning now. Register your interest by contacting david.chawner@engage2015.co.uk, and look out for the website www.engage2015.co.uk due on line after Easter 2014.

Baptist minister Dave Chawner is the co-ordinator of Engage. He was minister of Haven Green Baptist Church in Ealing from 1981-2007, and in 2001 became chaplain to London Wasps. He was soon involved in developing chaplaincy in Rugby Union across the UK as part of Sports Chaplaincy UK (then known as SCORE), which turned into a full time role in early 2007. In 2011 David was asked to be part of Engage NZ, the New Zealand churches’ response to the Rugby World Cup 2011, managing the chaplaincy programme across the tournament. He also acted as chaplain for the England team. 

Picture: RGB Stock
Baptist Times, 18/03/2014
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