A couple in Corner Brook, Nfld., shows their Olympic spirit when the Olympic torch made it’s way to their province.
Downtown Vancouver’s Christ Church Cathedral , the mother church of the Anglican diocese of New Westminster, will open its doors 12 hours a day from Feb. 11 to 27 to welcome visitors and offer them a place of “sanctuary, peace and prayer” during the 2010 Winter Olympics.
Aside from regular worship schedules, there will be daily “Chants for Peace,” at 5:30 p.m., which the Cathedral describes as “an intimate candlelight service of music and quiet reflection” featuring members of the acclaimed Cathedral Choir.
Clergy and volunteers will be on hand to greet visitors to the Cathedral from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Other local churches and faith groups are also laying out their welcome mats during the Feb. 12 to 28 Winter Games. Multi-faith centers will be set up at the Olympic Village in Whistler, B.C. and in Vancouver, and will include representatives of Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Judaism and Hinduism.
The centers are meant for both visitors and athletes, who may want to lean on their faith during the competitions.
Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, has asked Anglicans to embrace the “Olympic Spirit,” noting that the New Testament writers have used images associated with the ancient Olympic Games to encourage followers of Jesus to be “steadfast in their faith.” In his February column for the Anglican Journal, the primate wrote, “In the spirit of the Olympics, let us run the race that is set before us, let us cheer one another on, and let us give thanks for ‘that great cloud of witnesses by whom we are surrounded’ (Hebrews 12:1).”
Pope Benedict XVI has sent his blessings and good wishes to participating athletes, volunteers and organizers. “May sport always be a valued building block of peace and friendship between peoples and nations,” he said in a message sent to Archbishop J. Michael Miller of Vancouver.
Aside from offering hospitality to all, some Christian denominations, including Anglican and Roman Catholic, are planning activities to draw attention to the issue of human trafficking. At their last meeting, the Anglican-Roman Catholic Bishops’ Dialogue released a joint statement saying that while they recognize the Olympic Games as “a celebration of human development through sport,” it is also a time when sex workers are in high demand. They said the “buying and selling of human beings subverts the very essence of the Olympic spirit.”