The spirit of the Olympics has inspired the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams to praise "unsung efforts" in his final New Year's message.
Dr Williams today pays tribute to those whose "sacrificial generosity" helps to transform lives and build communities.
In the January 1 message, the eleventh he has done since taking office in 2002, he draws on the experience of the London Olympics to illustrate what it took to make the games so successful.
He says: "Everyone who visited the Olympic site or watched the broadcasts will have been made aware of the army of volunteers who cheerfully gave up their free time and worked away, without complaint, all hours of the day and night to make these great events happen.
"They were the key people who translated the Olympic vision into reality for the rest of us.”
Similar things are happening in many communities, he says, and points to the work of London churches in caring for the disadvantaged: “Over twenty local churches are combining to offer food and shelter to homeless people in London.
"let’s recognise this steady current of generosity that underlies so much of our life together in this country" – archbishop dr rowan williams"Religion here isn’t a social problem or an old-fashioned embarrassment, it’s a wellspring of energy and a source of life-giving vision for how people should be regarded and treated.”
He says those fortunate enough to live in a community where things work well "if you slip backstage you’ll find an army of cheerful people making the wheels go round."
He added: “So let’s recognise this steady current of generosity that underlies so much of our life together in this country and indeed worldwide.
"It's all based on one vision - to make our society, our whole world, work for everyone, not just the comfortable and well off.”
He urged people to ask what they could do to join "this silent conspiracy of generous dedication".
Dr Williams stood down from his post as Archbishop yesterday, to be replaced by the Bishop of Durham Justin Welby.
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