For 11 weeks, College Church, GatheringPoint and Second Place churches have teamed up to bring Alpha to Kankakee County. Alpha is a wide- spread 10-week program designed to examine the basics of the Christian fait. Meetings include food, a weekly topic and interactive discussions.
Alpha originated at Holy Trinity Brompton Church in central London as an introductory course for new Christians. It was not introduced to the U.S. until the 1990s and has now served more than 27 million people. The New York Times has called Alpha, “A novel approach to Christian education that has been catching on nationwide.”
Each Wednesday night from 9 to 10:30 p.m., community members and students gather in College Church for Alpha. The event draws 120-125 participants on average, according to Brian Robbins, University Student Pastor at College Church. Members break off into small groups of 8-12 and gather around a table led by a facilitator.
“Alpha is for anyone, that’s just kind of the nature of the program. You can come in if you’re just learning about your faith and your walk with God or you’ve been a Christian for a while but you still have questions… anything in between,” Robbins said. “It’s just a great time to have conversation and you can always use that no matter what.”
Topics in this program include how can we have faith, why and how one should pray, how one can resist evil and other topics. The groups discuss a multitude of questions pertaining to each week’s topic in between watching a video that initiates the discussion.
“Alpha challenges your faith and gives you a reason for why you believe what you believe,” junior Brendan Shea said.
A unique aspect to this program is that it can be hosted in multiple locations. Alpha welcomes anyone from any background to join no matter what week the course is on.
“It’s a really open atmosphere, we have a lot of fun,” Olivet graduate student Matt Jones said. “I enjoy that it’s good honest conversation.”
Some Olivet students have also become Alpha leaders. Their task is to facilitate the conversation at each of their assigned tables.
Sophomore Steven Nowinski said Alpha benefits those attending because, “It will give you questions to think about… it will push you to grow more in your faith.”
–Rachel Schramm, contributing writer