I confess that I am an accidental Alpha Course attendee. My faith journey began in Simon Butler’s study in April of 2013, when he met with my family to discuss the question of baptizing our 13-year-old son and 15-year-old daughter. Simon suggested that our children attend the Alpha course in the fall and combine it with confirmation instruction. My husband and I agreed.
The fall came. Alpha Course Monday nights loomed: 7:30 to 9pm. We discussed who would drive the kids and who would pick up. At church we learned that there were spots still available on the course – I made the suggestion to my husband that we all attend the first night. Reluctantly, very reluctantly, my husband agreed.
The first Monday night, and then the ten Monday nights that followed, found my family welcomed into St. Mary’s crypt by the ministry team, headed up by Alison. After a welcoming prayer, we were served dinner, cooked and served by past Alpha Course attendees. We sat down at a very long low table, making introductions and learning one another’s names. Tea and coffee orders were taken before we gathered in a room for the prepared Alpha talk.
Half an hour later, we broke for a hot beverage and cookies, and then formed three smaller discussion groups; two guided by Debbie and Colin for the adults and one by Robert for the confirmation students. It was in these groups that we discussed, in more depth, what we had learned in that week’s Alpha talk. Our discussions, from week to week, were wide ranging and varied. But everything that was said was said in private and kept confidential.
Over the weeks, many of us confessed to feeling, ‘the worst Christian in the room.’ Alison, Peter, Simon, Robert, Debbie and Colin, in turn, provided insight, guidance and humor that was, for me personally, life changing. All the mentoring by the ministry staff of St. Mary’s was warm, open and without judgment.
Can I recommend the Alpha course? Absolutely. Would my husband? Yes. Reluctant at the start, by the end of the course he declared it well worth doing. Both our children were grateful for Robert’s counsel and teaching. The baptism and confirmation service in December was a wonderful.
I have never had the chance to explore, with others – in an open and non-judgmental environment – the questions inherent to the Christian faith. I am particularly grateful to Colin and Debbie, and the entire ministry team at St. Mary’s, for sharing their own faith. Post the Alpha course I am hoping to make the transition from a cultural Christian to a practising Christian. Wish me luck!