A legacy of service at the Olympics
The Salvation Army is not new to Olympic outreach. The first recorded Salvation Army ministry was during the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York. David Willson, Director of Mission Atlanta ’96 (The Salvation Army’s ministry during the 1996 Summer Olympic Games) has researched what happened: “It was unusually cold that winter. The Olympic organizers had a real problem on their hands with people getting cold waiting in line for buses to get to venues. So, they called in The Salvation Army to provide warm drinks to visitors waiting for transportation.”
This legacy of service continued during the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympics and 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics. Ministry teams were then sent to the 1992 Barcelona Summer Olympics and 1994 Lillihammer Winter Olympics to work with local churches.
In preparation for the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia The Salvation Army created its first task force to develop a strategy of ministry through the theme More Than Gold. “This was the first time that we joined with other denominations and ministries to work together so that people would see a church united rather than divided,” says Willson.