Churchwardens from St Stephen’s, Carlby (in the Rutland Deanery) helped give rugby fans a cinematic experience by providing a big screen to show every England game during the Rugby World Cup.
Around 30 people of all ages got together from 20th September onwards at Carlby village hall, cheering England at every match through to the final. The highlights were the quarter-final triumph over Australia by 40 points to 16, and taking down the reigning champions, New Zealand, in the semi-final.
Whilst the rain came down outside, the village hall was the place to be, as tea, coffee and bacon and egg rolls – also provided by church members – were served to keep the fans going. A great atmosphere and camaraderie filled the hall. For those who weren’t keen on the rugby, a jigsaw was set out at the back of the hall, so they didn’t miss out on the fun either.
The World Cup Final against South Africa last Saturday (2nd November) brought 60 people to the hall, who were filled with the anticipation of a possible first Rugby World Cup victory since 2003. Unfortunately, the competition didn’t end well for England as South Africa lifted the cup with a 32-12 win, but this didn’t dampen the spirits of the group, who then went out for an afternoon of bulb-planting in the village.
The big screen showings – an initiative between St Stephen’s and the Carlby village hall committee – provided a great opportunity to evangelise. Half-time intervals were used to show a Christians in Sport video. In it, a number of Christian rugby players gave their testimony and talked about how Christ had changed their view of the game. Once the video finished, we were able to hand out invitations to an Alpha course at St Stephen’s, and encourage rugby fans to come along and find out for themselves who Jesus is.
It’s hoped that the church will be able to put on many more events like this in the future to reach out to the wider community – hopefully ending with an England trophy next time!
With thanks to Revd Jo Saunders from St Stephen’s Church for the article.