Yesterday saw the culmination of many months of dreaming and planning for a number of enthusiastic athletes in our local area with the launch of our very own Parkrun event. For those of you who don’t know, Parkrun is a weekly, free, timed 5km run/jog/walk that is facilitated by groups of volunteers in their local communities. Once you have registered as a Parkrun participant you are able to join in any other Parkrun event in the world.
For some time I had been interested in Parkrun when I lived in a major city, as a number of my friends and colleagues raved about it but I always managed to find reasons not to join in. It was, however, one of the first things I googled to see if it was offered in our town when we moved here, – alas, the closest event was in the next state and 90mins away.
Fast forward 18 months and I catch wind of the beginning of conversations in our community about bringing Parkrun to our area. I quickly indicated my willingness to be a part of the team to help make this happen. There were a couple of trial events once the preferred route was selected the funds raised and our Launch date was set for 8am Saturday 2nd February, 2019. At our last practice event we had 41 participants on the field. Yesterday morning saw 196 people engage in our 5kms trek. Amongst this group were a large number of Parkrunners from other locations, interstate and far-flung! Apparently it is a ‘thing’ to come along to the launches of new Parkruns to help support the newbies.
I didn’t run the course yesterday as I had accepted the request to be a volunteer marshal. This involves standing to help direct people along the route, encouraging everyone and keeping an eye out for those who may be struggling. After an hour I joined the ‘Tail Walker’ and other Marshals that walk behind the last ones to finish the course and I was impressed by the people who were there applauding everyone who was crossing the line and commending their efforts in perseverance. The sense of community was palpable and it was truly a heartwarming experience.
It reminded me of church, and how I pray it is like what I witnessed on Saturday. I want my church to be actively encouraging people to give a spiritual fitness activity a go, and to be there to cheer people on, no matter how long it takes them to achieve their goals. I want my church to be keeping a keen eye out for those who are struggling and may need some extra guidance or encouragement. I want my church to welcome all people, no matter where they are on their spiritual journey.
I pray that my church will be described as a ‘cloud of witnesses’ that encourages others as mentioned in Hebrews chapter 12 verse 1. For this to be the case, it needs to be said of me. I need to be sure I am modelling this as their leader, and now I will have a weekly reminder of this being my goal. Roll on next Saturday morning!