Alpha, England, & The Internet

( An Article for the September 1998 Deep Cove Crier)

Why have an estimated 600,000 to 700,000 people taken the Alpha course in the past 6 years?

Starting in 1992 with just 5 Alpha courses,  there are now over 9,000 Alpha courses being run all around the globe.  Since more than 5,500 churches in England offer the Alpha course, Alpha is now available within walking distance from any person in Britain.  This September, England will be seeing the launch of a National Alpha Initiative which has the focus of inviting every person in England to consider attending an Alpha Course. .  The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. George Carey, the world leader of the Anglican Communion, said: "As someone who has strongly supported the growth of Alpha over recent years,  I was delighted to hear about the National Alpha Initiative this September.  I hope that through it, many people up and down the country will take the opportunity to discover more about Jesus Christ and his relevance for our lives today."

What is Alpha anyways? Alpha is an opportunity to explore the meaning of life.  It is an introduction to the Christian faith which has seen extraordinary success in stimulating faith among those who are not churchgoers and has also given a new dynamism to existing Christians.

Recently my family visited England for a Pre-Lambeth Leaderís Conference and Retreat.  During that time, we were privileged to attend Holy Trinity, Brompton, the birthplace of the Alpha course.  It was exciting to see how this course has wonderfully transformed a church and is giving new hope to hundreds of thousands around the globe.  Nicky Gumbel, the International Alpha Leader, was privileged to speak about the Alpha course to the 753 Anglican bishops meeting recently at Canterbury for the Lambeth í98 Conference.  Great enthusiasm was shown by many bishops who are introducing Alpha to their various dioceses around the world.  While at Holy Trinity Brompton, it was exciting to see the energy and joy of the various Alpha leaders gathered there from all around the world.  My wife and I most appreciated being prayed for along with the several hundred other international Alpha leaders.

Locally, many churches on the North Shore, including St. Andrewís United, Hillside Baptist, Lynn Valley Full Gospel, New Hope Community Church, St. Clementís Anglican, Capilano Community Church, North Shore Alliance, North Lonsdale United and St. Simonís Anglican Church are now offering this amazing course.  Rather than competing, the local churches are working together and supporting each other in Christian love.  That is why many of the North Shore Clergy pray together every Tuesday at lunch.  Alpha is one more way of showing our love for each other as Christians.  Sally Start, the Alpha Canadian Co-ordinator, <salstart@ultranet.ca> estimates that as many as 200 churches in BC are now offering the Alpha experience.  In a world that is so often negative and critical, it is wonderful to be part of something that is so encouraging and inspiring.  It is also exciting to be part of a course that is free from any pressure or manipulation.  All seekers are welcome at this course, whether they are atheists, agnostics, or people of faith.  All questions are welcome.  There are no honest inquiries that will be turned away or rejected.  Alpha is a place where we can be honest about who we really are and about how we fit into this mysterious world.  Alpha is a place of safety and welcome.

Many, who have taken Alpha, suggest that this course has answered a lot of their deepest questions about life.  The pictorial symbol of the Alpha course is a person carrying a very large and heavy question mark.  So often the questions of life can really weigh us down.  For some reason, Alpha has been helping countless people feel more at peace about themselves and the world they live in.  Alpha has given people the courage to deal with the sometimes uncomfortable spiritual part of themselves.

There are many Internet sites devoted to letting people know about the Alpha Course.  Two most helpful ones are:

One person was searching for meaning and truth, only to run across our St. Simonís WEB page, where we mention the Alpha course.  This person was so motivated by what they read that they came to our local Alpha course, and after 10 weeks, has had a new experience of peace and love through Jesus Christ.  Despite all the evil that we hear about on the Internet,  God can still use the Internet as a means of bringing new life and hope to searching and hurting people.

If you would like to learn more about Alpha, I encourage you to call me at 929-5350 or e-mail me at ed_hird@telus.net    St. Simonís will be hosting its fourth Alpha Course starting with a Supper Party on Thursday September 17th at 7 p.m.  The theme for that night will be "Christianity: Boring, Irrelevant, and Untrue??".  If you would like to join us for the Supper Party, just give me a ring, and we will book a space for you.  There is no obligation for those who just want to come once and check it out for themselves.  My prayer is that many people reading this article will take this one small step towards spiritual growth and health.
St Simon's Alpha page

The Reverend Ed Hird, Rector, St. Simonís Anglican Church
                      http://www3.telus.net/st_simons/


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