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/ 16 January 2018

Sport Ministry Conference a great success

The Archbishop’s Sports Ministry Ambassador, Bishop Tony Porter, hosted the third National Sports Ministry Conference in London in November 2017.

Over 50 delegates from the southern dioceses in England came together to learn, share and be inspired.

Philip North, Bishop of Burnley, gave the keynote address.

Bishop Philip spoke about how crucial it is for the church to minister to the disadvantaged, as church renewal will come from our ability to engage with those on the margins of society.

He saw, from his own experience, how sports and physical activity could play a significant role in reaching people across the spectrum of wealth and inequality.

He added that sport can be a great vehicle for the four aims of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Evangelism Task Force: commitment to action; theology in public; leadership; and resources.

He outlined that sport has three vital ingredients:

Sport builds relationships – it is a place of encounter, with a common language and a gateway to deeper friendships.

Sport can be a model for gospel living – it takes work and determination and requires both body and spirit. It can change people’s lives.

Sport can help create leaders – it can help to ‘give back’ headship to disadvantaged communities by offering opportunities for leadership and showcasing talents and weaknesses.

Interviews followed with Andy Thorp, Chief Executive of Street Soccer Academy and Phil Duffy, Executive Director of Everton FC in the Community.

Both speakers reflected on how faith influences their work, using sport to change people’s lives, and how links with churches are invaluable.

The day also included 17 TED style talks highlighting new and best practice from across the country including Chester Cathedral’s Zumbathon and Southwark Diocese’s Being Salt and Light in the World of Sport.

The day’s interviews and talks are available online.

Bishop Philip’s talk is especially worth watching for anyone who is currently engaged in sports ministry or for those who think sport might be a useful way to engage the local community.

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The diocesan communications team provides support to the network of clergy, churches, parishes and other worshipping communities that comprises the Diocese of London, as well as to the staff teams of the London Diocesan Fund.

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