How Christians united around the Commonwealth Games 2022

After reading this account from the Chair of Birmingham 2022 Churches Together Group, Robert Mountford, about widespread cooperation between hundreds of Christians around the 2022 Commonwealth Games, we can be left in no doubt that major sporting events offer huge opportunities for mission, powerful prayer, boosting ecumenical relations, and experiencing the movement of the Holy Spirit to carry the Gospel to new places and people.

The 2022 Commonwealth Games have been and gone, having left behind many memories of the races and events, the stadiums and venues, the upbeat atmosphere and sense of camaraderie.

Christians were involved in and around the Games, of course, whether as athletes, volunteers or staff members. In addition, churches and Christian agencies collaborated in specific ways in the lead-up to the Games and throughout the 12 days of the competitions themselves.

These were the main areas of focus:


Prayer led the way. A small team of people met from August 2021 to pray and plan the prayer initiatives around the Commonwealth Games.

  • From October 2021, with the help of the World Prayer Centre, the Queen’s Baton Prayer Relay shadowed the Queen’s Baton as it made its way around the globe.
  • Each time the baton entered a new Commonwealth nation or territory, a few bullet points (or a short video) via social media directed prayer for the country concerned.  
  • The ecumenical ‘ReSet’ prayer gathering that took place at the Redeemed Christian Church of God Covenant Restoration Assembly, in New John Street, on Tuesday 8 March, sought prayerfully to reset Birmingham’s relationship with the Commonwealth by repenting of past abuses and releasing a new relationship of partnership.
  • Monthly, online ‘Kitbag’ prayer meetings took place in the Spring. A team of intercessors prayed in person at each of the 14 midlands venues in the eight weeks prior to the start of the Games.
  • An online, international ‘Healing the Commonwealth’ prayer gathering took place on Monday 27 June.
  • A ‘Blessing the Commonwealth’ meeting took place at Gas Street Church on Saturday 16 July, the service being relayed around the world via YouTube.
  • On Sunday 24 July, just prior to the start of the Games, an ecumenical, civic ‘Service of Praise’ was held at St Chad’s Cathedral. The Lord Lieutenant of the West Midlands, the High Sheriff of the West Midlands and the Lord Mayor of Birmingham joined senior leaders from a number of the city’s Churches in welcoming the Commonwealth Games to the midlands (Report HERE).
  • From Monday 25 July until Monday 8 August, 336 hours of unbroken worship and prayer were undertaken at the Elim Life Church building in Pheasey (kindly loaned), with the help of friends from around the country belonging to the ‘Burn 24/7’ network and the participation of local intercessors.

“Through these combined activities, the 2022 Commonwealth Games was soaked in prayer.”


In early conversations about the opportunities provided by the coming of the Games to the Midlands, chaplaincy was identified as an area of need and opportunity.

An excellent chaplaincy coordinating team came together and, through their planning and endeavours, 150 volunteer chaplains were identified, trained and vetted so as to be ready to serve as required during the Games.

Though issues such as changing personnel in the Commonwealth Games organising committee and the existence of multiple athletes’ accommodation venues introduced challenges along the way, the chaplains were able to provide support to athletes, staff members, police, volunteers and visitors when the Games began.

Against human trafficking

In response to the sad reality of the increase in human trafficking whenever international sporting events take place, churches and Christian agencies, as well as other faith communities, were able to support the work of the West Midlands Violence Reduction Unit by promoting the ‘It’s a penalty’ campaign.


From mid-April 2022, leaders and representatives of Midlands Gospel outreach ministries were in ongoing communication in order to coordinate their plans for the summer.

  • At the end of April, in a well-planned and well-executed programme, ‘GOOD NEWS for Everyone!’ (formerly Gideons), visited hundreds of hotels and accommodation venues in the Midlands to ensure that every room had a Bible in readiness for the influx of visitors to the region.
  • Prior to the Games, ‘Healing on the Street’ staged training events at St Martin in the Bullring.
  • During the Commonwealth Games, Christian ministries from near and far engaged in Gospel outreach on the streets of the Midlands. Local outreach groups included Birmingham City Mission, Faithroots, Urban Devotion, Operation Mobilisation and Healing on the Streets.
  • Groups from afar included Youth With a Mission (from London and Cambridge), Gospel Literature Outreach (from various locations), FireStarters (from Cardiff and Glasgow) and Burn 24/7 (from various locations).
  • Support to outreach groups was provided by, among others, Lozells Methodist Church (hosting the YWAM team) and Connected Life Church (formerly George Road Baptist Church), Erdington (who hosted the FireStarters teams).
  • Local churches involved in Gospel outreach included St Paul’s, Leamington Spa; St Paul’s in the Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham; Alvechurch Baptist Church; St Martin’s in the Bullring, Birmingham; and St John’s, Perry Barr.
  • The ‘GOOD NEWS for Everyone!’ team, which included both local people and visitors from California, gave out 11,500 New Testaments during the 12 days of the Games.
  • Volunteers handed out leaflets, engaged in personal conversation and offered prayer.
  • Teenagers in the FireStarters group created a Cheer Tunnel by lining the sides of the pathway and applauding people going into a Games venue, then offering a Gospel leaflet as they emerged at the other end.

“All involved reported having lengthy and meaningful conversations with visitors and volunteers alike. Some of those approached accepted the offer of prayer, while others expressed a desire to begin to follow Jesus.”

Robert, pictured right of the photo, with the YWAM team from London

Huge thanks are due to all who came together for the Commonwealth Games in the Midlands to engage in prayer, chaplaincy and outreach.

We continue to pray that the spiritual atmosphere in the Midlands will be lifted through the crescendo of worship and prayer, that there will be fruit in the long-term from the seeds that were sown, and that the ecumenical relationships established and developed between Christian congregations, leaders and ministries will continue and grow in the coming months.