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Posted 12 Mar 2001   For week ended February 23, 2001
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Sent on Mormon-News: 23Feb01

By Mark Wright

Shaw Picks Up Olympic Interfaith Baton from Late LDS Colleague Barnes

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- William Shaw is feeling the pressure of performing for the 2002 Olympic Games. Shaw is not an athlete but he's been handed a Herculean task with a very short timeline. Newly appointed head of the Olympic Interfaith Roundtable, Shaw has to take it to the next level. Alan Barnes, the original founder of the Olympic Interfaith Roundtable, an ecumenical group focused on fulfilling the religious needs of the athletes and visitors planning to attend the 2002 Olympic Games, passed away unexpectedly on Jan. 2, 2001.

Barnes' death was a significant blow that could have ended the fledgling group's efforts but Shaw, appointed by the SLOC after Barnes' death, hasn't missed a beat. Like his predecessor, Shaw is an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and is working hard to maintain a coalition of local religious leaders that want to provide religious support for any Olympic attendees that desire to practice their religion while attending the 2002 Games.

Although Barnes put a solid foundation in place, the work was left unfinished and Shaw still has a significant number of challenges to tackle. These challenges include getting approval for the Roundtable's mission statement, solidifying the Olympics' chaplain corps, completing plans for an interfaith chapel at the Olympic Village, coordinating a housing program to serve athletes' families, and creating a referral network for visitors seeking places of worship.

By all accounts, the group continues to survive and even thrive under Shaw's leadership. Comments from the members of the Roundtable are positive and complimentary. "I am impressed with William Shaw," said the Rev. Caryl Marsh, rector of St. Paul's Episcopal Church. "I have every confidence that things will continue to progress well under [Shaw's] leadership." Similarly, the Rev. John Kaloudis, pastor of Salt Lake's Greek Orthodox community said, "the Roundtable seems to be on target."

One interesting note about the proposed mission statement for the Roundtable is the inclusion of a statement pledging Roundtable participants to avoid proselytizing during the Games. This is especially interesting because the Church of Jesus Christ is well known for its very active missionary efforts. Given the large numbers of LDS volunteers expected to participate during the games, it will be interesting to see how far the "non-proselytizing" pledge of the Roundtable goes in curtailing the missionary zeal of the LDS volunteers.

It's also interesting to note that many evangelical churches, not members of the Interfaith Roundtable, are already planning for a major proselytizing push during the Games. Apparently, the athletes will have plenty of options when it comes to religious involvement during the games.

Perhaps more important than the actual effort of preparing for the Olympics, the work of Barnes and Shaw have also set the stage for greater interfaith cooperation and understanding in Salt Lake City once the Games have been completed. After the last gold medal has been handed out and the athletic feats of the participants have been celebrated, it seems certain that the Olympic Interfaith Roundtable will have their own amazing success story to tell.


Death Slows But Doesn't Stop Oly God Squad
Salt Lake Tribune 17Feb01 P2
By Bob Mims: Salt Lake Tribune


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