On Friday 6 July, the Olympic Torch came to Grays.

A number of churches on the route got stuck in in various ways among the 25,000 people who turned out to witness this thin slither of history. Here are a few of their stories from the day.

Ash Torch 1Ashley Lovett, pastor at Socketts Heath Baptist Church, Premier Avenue, Grays

Grays churches unite to shine brighter than the Torch!

Socketts Heath Baptist Church, St John’s Anglican Church and Grays Methodist Church all meet in the vicinity of the Lodge Lane parade of shops. As this would be where the Olympic Torch would start its journey
through Grays these churches spoke to the council about how they could get involved and serve their local community.

The result was that people from all three churches came out to the parade and on an unexpectedly (but God given?) warm afternoon served the crowds cups of cold water, painted faces and made bAsh Torch 2alloon models for the children, and directed any who’d been caught short to the Baptist Church building where toilets were available. All for free. All to bless the people who’d gathered.

Those who benefited – including the stewards who lined that part of the route for 3 long thirsty hours – were touched and grateful for these simple acts of generosity, which helped to keep away the boredom as they waited for the Torch itself to arrive. It was an incredible blessing for the churches too, with many doing something like this for the first time, and serves as an example of how easy it can be to work together and be good news in the name of Christ!
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Pictures show:
1: Rev Rosemary Pritchard of Grays Methodist Church trying her hand at face painting!
2: water distribution
3: arts and crafts
4: “Look Dad, I’ve got a big pink balloon model of… one of those!”

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Col Torch 1Colin Baker, Grays Baptist Church, Orsett Road

“Just a good fun day…”

Many folk were served refreshments and given Torch Relay water – and we even let them use the church’s WC! There were also some children’s activities. It was just a good fun day.

The marquee was put up on the church forecourt in case of bad weather – and as the rain threatened in the early part of the afternoon, a number of people huddled underneath.

Pictures show:
1: the marquee and crowds by the church

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2: the scene in the road as the Torch passes

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3: crowds follow the Torch down Orsett Road

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4: one of the Torchbearers

HOP Torch 2Gloria Olujobi, RCCG House of Praise, Queensgate Centre, Orsett Road, Grays

Our Olympic Torch Experience

It is a once in a lifetime experience when the Olympic torch comes to your town or a town near you but it’s incredibly memorable when it comes straight to your street. The Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), House of Praise – HOP, Grays was blessed to witness the torch-bearing in her domain when Olympic train and torchbearers ran through the length of Orsett road on Friday, July 6, 2012.
The weather had been very friendly unlike the previous days of heavy rain and so the people of Grays and Thurrock couldn’t have been more grateful for God’s benevolence.

HOP Torch 5Hours before the official arrival of the torch, people had come out in their droves to line the streets of the town along Orsett and London roads aisle in a way reminiscent of the triumphant entry of our Lord Jesus to Jerusalem.

Naturally, there was excitement everywhere in the air as little children and their parents, school children and the other members of community were united to witness this rare event. Lots of colourful events like parades by schools and other organisations and display of talents preceded the main event.

The House of Praise (HOP) in its usual integrating quest and community spirit was not going to be left out of this august occasion. The Church had mounted two pavilions in different locations at the HOP Torch 7opposite sides of the road adjacent to Thameside theatre/Grays library to support the people and serve bottles of water to thirsty participants. Our Church members were pretty handy in dispensing this little contribution of the Church.

Expectedly, with excitement and eagerness running side by side in a fairly warm weather, the people would not have enough of water. Our stock was depleted in a record time just as if the people knew or were just waiting for the Church to supply water on the day. What we had estimated would last the whole day were distributed much earlier as the queue was endless and we had to order for an extra supply.

HOP Torch 8Certainly, not everyone of us will be physically present to watch the live events at the games village in Stratford and other sporting centres around the capital but the memory of being part of the Olympic torch bearing will linger for as long as we live.

We thank God that we were part of it. HOP will continue to influence her community.

Pictures, top to bottom…
1: HOP’s table outside the Queensgate
2: the public receiving water
3: the first of the corporate sponsor vehicles comes through
4: the Torch goes by

Videos of the Olympic Torch Relay by Tim Harrold
Filmed outside the Thameside Theatre, Orsett Road, Grays on Friday 6 July.
Cut and paste these links into your browser.

1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FJF_5ThT9BA
A brass band plays while the excited townsfolk gather for the anticipated spectacle of the Olympic Flame being held aloft by torchbearers running through the streets.

2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3C55gVCXZRQ
On the 7th anniversary of London being chosen to host the 2012 Games, the razzmatazz of the Torch comes to Grays, Essex on Day 49 of the round-UK relay. Here we see the amassed crowds getting excited by the arrival of the Olympic bus and the first of the sponsors, whipping everyone up into excitement and expectation.

3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bRuJ9c5NLV0
A bus goes by! The crowd’s excitement mounts.

4: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W6IqMyPsFSQ
The Olympic Torch goes by!
The band plays “Bridge Over Troubled Water”.
The gathered cheer the flame of Zeus…
Features Jonathan Catton of the Thurrock Local History Museum; John Peters of Thurrock Christian Fellowship; Thurrock’s two Conservative MPs, Jackie Doyle-Price and Stephen Metcalfe, standing on chairs in the VIP enclosure; and Jonathan Curzon of the Thurrock Art Trail.

5: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lTa4_Q-KE6s&feature=relmfu
Orsett Road – the aftermath of the Olympic Torch Relay. Stragglers and rubbish – and an old mate called Clive!