Archbishop of Canterbury’s cricket captain starts Sports Ministry
A large part of the Hampton Deanery in the Diocese of London is taken up by Bushy Park. Every weekend the park is alive with people of all ages and backgrounds playing sport. During the covid pandemic physical activity to support mental health and wellbeing became even more important.
Of course, a lot of sporting activities happen on Sunday mornings when most churches meet to worship, so the church can feel somewhat separated from this sphere of human activity. The Bishop of Islington, Ric Thorpe, and the former area dean of Hampton saw an opportunity to create something which could bring both sport and church together.
Activate is a new sport and activities ministry which works alongside the churches in the Hampton Deanery to enhance wellbeing, community and faith. Revd Chris Kennedy is leading the initiative. He’s a sport loving pioneer priest – the Archbishop of Canterbury’s cricket captain and a trained physio.
Activate has initiated church worship aimed at young people and their families using sport and dance, weekly ‘soup and stretch’ sessions which support people with mobility difficulties, and specialist sessions for those going through bereavement or living with memory loss. There are plans for ‘Fit church’ which includes 45 minutes of high intensity interval training (!) as well as an initiative to team up with the seven sports clubs who use Bushy park to combat male suicide.
Social prescribing is a national project where health professionals can refer people to local services in the community to support their wellbeing and health. ‘We’re excited to work with social prescribers,’ Chris says, ‘to understand the unique needs of our communities and help local churches meet those needs… When we share our lives with people, they naturally start to ask questions.’
To find out more about Activate, visit www.activatechurch.org.uk
This article is based on a longer interview by the Gregory Centre for Church Multiplication (CCX) which serves the London Diocese 2030 vision for creative growth. CCX offers courses for Pioneers and all want to see the church grow in depth and number.