The memories are now fading but one Lancashire church hopes to build on the success of a brilliant piece of outreach work which took place during the Football World Cup tournament.
For the doors of St Peter’s Church in Scorton were flung wide open to the entire village for live screenings of all England’s World Cup games. The events were such a success the church now hopes to replicate them with further sporting events and possibly even a film night once a week.
More than a hundred people came as the village community gathered for the England v Sweden last 16 game and were very surprised to meet a visiting Bishop and be able to drink at a makeshift pub - ‘The Carpenter’s Arms’. The visiting Bishop was the Bishop of Burnley, Rt Rev Philip North.
Parish priest, Rev Anton Muller said: “The idea initially came from a throwaway remark. Our Churchwarden Jo Taylor’s husband lives for football and so the idea flowed from that, as we thought a good many in the community would also be attracted by a large screen in a cool setting (ideal with the recent hot weather).
The main organiser of the live screenings was Jo from our parish who organised the equipment loaned and installed by Audioworks.
“We had to put a TV aerial in the steeple above the bells,” said Anton, “A small team (run by Churchwarden Jo Taylor) came together to run the event, including the bar. Other folk from the community came early to help, and stayed on after to tidy up.”
“The ale came from the AVID Brewery and a lot of the lager and wine was donated. We received £1,500 in donations over all,” Anton continued.
“The match against Croatia drew more than 100 people and, despite the disappointment of England not reaching the final, there were still 40 in church that last game.
“The majority of those who came were not churchgoers, while members of the congregation came to be part of the welcoming face of St Peter’s Church, representing as they did so, the Gospel message to ‘welcome the stranger’.”
The church has got the bug now for holding community events. They plan to show other sporting events and also start a community film night. There are also plans to continue running ‘The Carpenters Arms’ once a week!
One visitor to St Peter’s during the World Cup wrote to Jo Taylor after the events saying: “Can I just say a big thank you and well done to all the volunteers who were involved in bringing the village together at the church for the football. I can honestly say we all really enjoyed it and everyone who I spoke to felt the same!”
Bishop Philip, a self-confessed football fan, was keen to get involved: “I thoroughly enjoyed the game I watched at St Peter’s and it was an excellent way to bring people to church who might never normally come. I enjoyed chatting with the fans and offer a huge congratulations to Anton and his team for their hard work and initiative.”
Keith Mcintosh, The Church of England’s Ministry of Sport Ambassador in Lancashire, added: “Well done to all involved for stepping out in faith with a fantastic example of how the local church can engage with its local community through sport.”