30th July, 2012
The number of people attending church-hosted events in the UK on the opening night of the Olympics far exceeded expectations, reported Olympics outreach umbrella organisation More than Gold.
In an indication of the popularity of the events, around 6,500 people turned up for the Opening Ceremony festival in Buckinghamshire, far more than the expected 2,500. Meanwhile in Surrey, people queued around the block to attend the festival at Purley Baptist Church where former British Olympian Donovan Reid led sports-related activities.
More than Gold spokesman Marty Woods said while it was expected about 500,000 people would attend Games-related events run by churches on the Opening Night, "the signs are that many more have been involved".
The largest church-hosted event was in Dagenham, Essex, where more than 10,000 people attended, hosted by 500 volunteers from 20 different churches. While yet to be confirmed, it's believed that a new world record was set for the "most number of people wearing party hats in one place".
"The story of greater numbers than expected is a constant theme we are hearing from churches that served their communities by hosting an opening night festival," said Mr Woods. "This bodes well for all that the churches have planned over the coming weeks."