The Alpha Course
Our launch evening with wine and canapes takes place in the Ministry Centre on Thursday, 5 October at 8.00 pm.
For more information on Alpha please visit their website: www.alpha.org
“I was sat on the top of Clieves Hill eating a jar of chilli pickles with my sister, discussing how stressful my life was, how unhappy I was with my financial situation and trying to be the perfect Mum. I was looking for work and trying to fight my son’s corner who was being bullied in secondary school.
“I was feeling very alone, worse than I have felt in a long time. Things had now got the better of me and I was starting to crumble big time and my marriage was falling apart.
“My sister had just completed the Alpha Course and she told me how it had changed her life. She was eager to share her story and convinced me that the Alpha Course would be spiritually beneficial to me and my family.
“I agreed with my sister and suggested to my husband that the Alpha Course could be beneficial to both of us. He agreed and my sister kindly baby sat for us.
My sister, my rock: I believe that God was working through her that night. My husband and I decided to give our marriage one last go. The Alpha Course has helped me to become more spiritually aware. It has saved my marriage and I have allowed Jesus to become part of my everyday thoughts and prayers since doing the Alpha course.”
“I decided to do the Alpha Course this January. My wife suggested that we experience it together, I had nothing to lose as I was continuously angry with my circumstances and always stressed over the little things. My family life and marriage were under strain, so I thought I would give it one last go.
“I knew a few of my family members had done the Alpha Course and I had heard good things about it. I had also noticed the changes in their lives.
“I went to the meetings, had a meal with my wife and made new friends, something I hadn’t done in a long time due to the unsociable working commitments as a chef.
“During our meetings we had discussions about God and Christianity and what it really meant to me. My relationship with God was growing and I prayed and thanked him more.
“I noticed things starting to change, I have become more humble and less stressed over the little things. I have become slow to anger and faster in understanding others. My pace has slowed down and my family has noticed the changes in me.
“I now feel an inner peace within myself. My circumstances are changing and I have learned to trust God, I have passed the control to him. My marriage and my family life is no longer under strain.”
“I have been asked to talk about my Alpha experience.
“A brief background about myself: my name is Karl, I am 44 years old, I have been married for 17 years and have three amazing children: Luke, Jessica and Emma.
“I started coming to Christ Church with my wife Karen about eight months ago, after a few weeks I was approached by two church members. They both asked whether I had thought about joining the Alpha course. I hadn’t, and had no intention in doing so.
“My wife thought that I would enjoy the course and would find it interesting as she had previously done a similar course at her friends church. If I am honest I am still unsure why I agreed to do Alpha, as I don’t usually do anything I don’t want to. Maybe it was the idea of good company, open minded discussions and food, but reluctantly I went.
“Not sure what to expect; I was still surprised to what I heard during the 10 week course, which actually lasted around 14 weeks.
“Considering I went to a convent primary school and a church senior school, I quickly found out how little I knew about Jesus and Christianity, (quite embarrassing really). Nicky Gumbell, who speaks in the DVD’s, gave a very light introduction to what Christianity means and what it meant to be a Christian.
“If there were questions we had on the course, there was always someone there to answer them. I often wondered that if Jesus was a Jew, how come people who believe in Jesus aren’t Jewish. A simple question with a simple answer when you ask the right person, or read the Bible. I asked my RE teacher in school, and she told me to ‘Be quiet and stop asking stupid questions.’
“The only stupid question on the Alpha course is the one you don’t ask. Some things baffled me during the course, such as the talk on asking for the Holy Spirit. Ghost Busters kept coming into my mind when I thought about the Holy Spirit – until I asked what it meant.
“Overall I found the course very interesting, very enjoyable and it has opened my mind to Christianity and what it means to be a Christian. I met a wonderful group of people I now call my friends and most of whom have continued on a follow up course.
“I would certainly encourage anyone to do the Alpha Course whether a Christian or not. You would definitely enjoy the course and may even become a Christian, or at lead you on the right path to Christianity.
“The Alpha might not be the right one for you, but the follow up course could be. You never know until you try.”
Personal story from January, 2014
I was first introduced to Alpha on returning from a spell of living in Ireland. I am a practising Catholic, and worship at St. Anne’s, where I am very happy, and look upon my parish as my extended family.
I have always had a living relationship with God, but knew in my heart there was more, and a possibility of a deeper understanding.
I had been home in Ormskirk only a week when a copy of Consider dropped through my letter box. Inside, was an invitation to the Alpha course.
I was interested, though a little apprehensive, as I wasn’t a member of Christ Church, and wondered if this would be a problem. A very wise friend of mine, Ken Park, a valued member of Christ Church, allayed my fears and encouraged me to attend. Happily, I took his advice and was met with broad smiles and open arms.
I found Alpha to be interesting, informative and uplifting, but the GREATEST thing I brought away with me was a Fellowship and a Love I had never experienced before. This spurred me on to continue with my Faith building and attend the Beta and subsequent courses since.
I can only say that Alpha has made a huge difference to my Life, and continues to do so daily. My prayer is that other people will be open to this invitation to Love and Growth.
This is an honest account of what is in my heart, and I thank Alpha, Ken Park and the people at Christ Church for their warmth, welcome and encouragement.
Personal stories from January 2013
My friend had recently lost his 22 year old daughter in a tragic accident. At the funeral there were so many young people who looked lost. I started questioning my faith and wondered why God could let this happen.
My sister in law had often talked about Alpha but at the time it did not interest me. I saw the sign for the Alpha course outside Christ Church when driving into Ormskirk. Whilst shopping in Ormskirk, a lady handed me the Alpha leaflet. When returning home, I read the leaflet and looked it up on the Internet.
A week later, I went to the Alpha launch with a open mind. A couple, Andy and Helen stood up to talk about their experience in Alpha. Their talk made an impression on me. The following Saturday, I was shopping in Southport and heard busker’s, to my amazement it was Andy and Helen. We chatted about Alpha and arranged to meet the following week.
I knew then that I was meant to go to Alpha.
Each Wednesday we meet up, have a meal and a chat, watch a DVD, then split into smaller groups to discuss the DVD and any other issues that anyone might have had during the week.
I look forward to meeting up, every Wednesday, with a group of lovely people who have become friends. I have gained a better understanding about God and am now reading the Bible for the first time in my life.
I would encourage anyone who is thinking about Alpha to join. Just do it!
I was brought up as a Christian and, as a child and teenager, attended church regularly though less often as an adult.
I’ve lived abroad for the last ten years and on coming home I wanted to reconnect with the church.
The banner advertising the Alpha Course seemed to be calling me each time I passed and I decided to go along on the launch night. Everyone was so kind and friendly, I didn’t feel at all out of place.
Each week we’ve had an opportunity to meet and eat together, which has given us the chance to get to know each other and develop our friendship.
After our meal we watch a short video about a particular aspect of Christian faith and we come together later to discuss what we have heard and how it relates to us and our lives.
It’s been a wonderful and very humbling experience to share this time with other ordinary people and hear their stories, hopes and fears. What a privilege it has been to share their journey in faith.
I was worried that perhaps my faith was not as strong as it should be, but I have learned that all I needed was a tiny “mustard seed” which is growing much faster than I had anticipated!
The Alpha course has helped to deepen my understanding and transform my faith experience from a Sunday habit to a real living,3D experience. I would encourage anyone who has questions about the direction of their lives to come and try the Alpha Course.
I chose to do Alpha after returning to church after a number of years.
Previously I would describe my faith as blind and nearly childlike. I was brought up to believe so I just did. There was no substance to my faith and it did not inspire me to think differently.
I had no idea what to expect from Alpha but I can honestly say as we conclude the course, I have gained more than I ever thought possible.
I have met some great like minded people that I know I will keep in touch with. I have learned so much about what my faith means to me.
A few weeks ago I was driving to work on the M58 and I happened to notice a huge formation of birds flying up and down over a field. It was extraordinary for me to notice this and the hymn “All Things Bright And Beautiful” sprang into my mind. I felt compelled to thank God for such majestic nature.
I would conclude by saying I have got so much enrichment from Alpha and I look forward to continuing my spiritual journey with Beta.
After my final Alpha Course meeting last night, I am writing to pass on my most sincere thanks to you both and everybody else involved with running of the course.
I originally decided to attend the course as I have, for a number of years, had an interest in the Christian faith.
I have found the course to be thoroughly enjoyable and exceptionally well run and organised. The atmosphere is relaxed and friendly and it is fantastic to be amongst like-minded people with whom you really develop a bond throughout the course.
I have also genuinely found that my life has been enhanced through Alpha. I am calmer, less angry and more hopeful for the future. The weekly videos and discussion groups certainly give you an alternative way of looking at life and allows you to see what really is important and what is not.
I would not hesitate to recommend the Alpha Course to others and will definitely do so.
From October 2012
I decided to go on the course last year due to circumstances in my life – being in a bad place and not seeing any good in anyone or anything.
Before joining the Alpha course I was at a low ebb in my life. I had many questions and doubts about religion in general and felt that Christianity was something people did on a Sunday that was of no use or help in my life at all.
However, since taking the course I have been elated and learning about the way of Jesus and being awakened to a new light in the form of the Holy Spirit.
Things have gone from strength to strength. I feel a lot calmer about situations that may have been difficult to deal with before. The reason, I believe, is because as you progress through understanding the principles of the Christian faith and through the Holy Spirit, you let go of the bad feelings you have and hand them over to God. Things which you would have had a hard time about worrying over just disappear. Even being bitter and resenting someone for the bad things that they may of done or said to you – they just go.
Even things that you have no control over – such as you may worry about – now will simply not bother you There is a sense of calm, contentedness, well being and peace of mind – with things are so much more easier to deal with.
I would recommend the Alpha course to anyone who feels unfulfilled, deflated or is unhappy about themselves.
Nobody will expect anything from you and there is no pressure.
It is just an opportunity to learn and be enlightened and to discover Christ through the teachings of the Bible.
I decided to join Alpha after watching the effect the course had on my parents, my Dad in particular. I had noticed since my Dad had attended the course, he seemed a lot calmer about stuff that he couldn’t change. I was intrigued and wanted to gain more knowledge and understanding so I decided to give it a go for a week to see what it was all about.
I was anxious at my first Alpha meeting but also pleasantly surprised as it was not what I expected. I thought I would be preached to. My anxiety soon subsided as I began to realise and accept that I was surrounded with like minded people with many questions to further their own spiritual growth and there was absolutely no pressure.
Surprisingly after my first week I found myself wanting to return again. I found the talks on the video in particular very interesting and informative. They made sense and I could apply a lot of the logic to my own life.
The Alpha course has definitely helped me. It has changed my way of thinking and has improved my relationships with other people.
I would definitely recommend the Alpha for anyone.
To me you can never learn too much and we can only gain from knowledge. Its worth taking some time out to give it a go, go in with an open mind; you’ve nothing to lose but so, so much to gain.
When I first started Alpha course I thought I was more advanced than others and there was nothing new for me to learn. The reason I joined was to accompany my husband who was new to the Christian faith.
At first, I enjoyed the fact that they served a free meal and dessert…and I do love my food!
Following the lovely food and the friendly chat was a video of Nicky Gumbell who spoke about life and Christianity in a nice way with some humour which made it fun and easy to watch.
Then came time for discussion as we were split into small groups. I loved it.
I started to look forward to my Wednesday nights at Alpha. By the time I finished Alpha, I started to notice a change in my husband and surprisingly myself!! We became more relaxed and understanding with one another, less tension between us and more love!
It also changed the way we looked at life in general and enlightened our thoughts, I myself became more knowledgeable and more committed to God and besides all that, I met genuine people whom I consider my friends.
I wish everyone could experience Alpha as it is such an incredible experience and an easy way of finding inner peace and love.
I came to Alpha with a totally open mind, being eager to give my opinions and to seek answers to lifelong questions, some of which I have found and others which (I suspect) may still take some considerable time.
I was prepared to ‘give it a go’ and to see what happened on a week by week basis. Well, something must have happened, because a year after starting Alpha I am still attending weekly house group meetings, having been through both Alpha and Beta courses and I must admit, thoroughly enjoying both through the challenge and diversity of the content and discussion.
The guidance and support that we have received throughout has inspired us and bonded us together as a group both spiritually and socially. I can’t say that the whole experience has suddenly made me believe in God, as I did have faith, albeit somewhat hidden away. But it certainly was and still is a worthwhile experience which has made me reflect positively upon my life and my original beliefs.
My children had been trying to get me to do an Alpha course but I had no interest in Christianity or any religion. However, after talking to them about how beneficial it could be, and after not a bit of time, they convinced me to give it a try. My intention was to give it two or three weeks, so I could say “Well, I tried it!”
Coming back from the meeting of the third week I decided I quite liked the meal, and also the discussions. Because the group was so diverse I realised I had got a lot our of these discussion – and in addition, the leaders could always answer any negative comments of mine concerning Christianity.
So I made the decision to continue – and I did the rest of the course, enjoying it immensely.
By the end of the course I came to the conclusion there was definitely something there. The Alpha course had slowly reawakened my interest in Christianity (I was a practising Catholic as a child) and how I wanted more information and understanding how to walk with God.
I must add that there was no bolt of lightening – just a slow awakening of interest.
The Alpha completed, I decided to join the follow up Beta group. And where the Alpha course had awakened my Christianity (or as I said earlier, re-awakened) the Beta is teaching me from the Bible.
This is very important because the Bible had never spoken to me before, even after the Alpha course. But, slowly and surely, a whole new meaning is opening up.
I would now call myself a Christian – but I know I have a long road to walk before I can call myself a true Christian. That is not a problem because I am thoroughly enjoying the course.
It is strange, isn’t it, how seemingly unconnected events can suddenly collide to cause a significant change of direction. Some might call it serendipitous…others might be inclined to read into it something a little deeper.
This happened to me past year when I attended a Christ Church Sports Quiz Evening at the behest of a friend at Christ Church . After the event, a friend of mine, who had accompanied me , picked up an Alpha leaflet and suggested that we should give it “go” for a couple of weeks.
It was with some trepidation that I attended the first session. Previous experiences, admittedly many, many moons ago, suggested that I was in for an ear bashing. I didn’t really know what to expect…was I to be told of eternal damnation, ordered to kneel; possibly in a dusty, sterile environment.
Of course, none of this was the case. After a convivial glass of wine or two, we were presented with a wonderful meal. This was a marvellous way to break the ice and get to know the other participants.
What impressed me greatly was the friendliness of the gathered throng, and it was reassuring to be amongst other like minded people and….dare I say it…singing from the same hymn sheet.
One of the most interesting features of the evening was a DVD talk by Nicky Gumbell, which managed to simplify into easily digestible bite-sized chunks the complexities of the Christian Faith.
But the most interesting aspect for me was the group discussions we had after the talk when we could, together, analyse what had been said, and perhaps reach some sort of conclusion. Really fascinating stuff, and quite mind opening and enlightening.
Over the past few months, because of the Alpha course, some aspects of my life, or more accurately my attitudes, have changed significantly.
I suppose one of the key events, a catalyst if you like, was an introduction to the Holy Spirit, which lasted a whole Saturday. This was a turning point for me. Although baptised into the Christian faith many years ago, I somehow had lost touch with its meaning, and fallen to the wayside. However, I felt a real reconnection after that particular Saturday, as if something had entered my life, making me more aware of the wider issues.
It is still very early days, and I am still long way off canonisation, or even becoming an archbishop, but if anyone should ask me, “Is the Alpha Course worth the effort?” then my only reply would be an unequivocal, unhesitating Yes.
Born a Roman Catholic in Salford I attended a Catholic Church school. I attended mass with my parents every Sunday, eventually becoming an altar boy. After about the age of 16 I attended less and less. Leaving home at 18 I stopped altogether. When the children were born I had them baptised and started to attend a little more.
My career at the time was very important and although I attended Church at Christmas I did let my faith lapse.
Three years ago a friend suggested the Alpha course. We agreed to try it – however, I didn’t manage to make it.
My wife and I were in Ormskirk in November and a leaflet was handed to me. I thought “OK I’m going to give it a go”. My wife said “it’s a commitment…. Think about it.”
I was curious and decided to attend just the open welcome evening. I was nervous as I was on my own> However upon arrival I was made to feel extremely welcome.
From day one of the course there was absolutely no pressure, if you didn’t want to talk you were left alone to listen. I listened, and after three weeks was captivated and wanted real meaningful answers to questions.
I have had my questions answered, and have decided, (my choice) to carry on being a member of Christ Church and enjoying every minute.
Have I changed? Yes I have! I feel better about life, my family and the Church.