We need a new evangelization which, while being open to all the fullness of the truth and the Christian life, will yet be simple and basic. This is the reason why I look with interest and appreciation to the Alpha course. It seems to me that it answers precisely this need of ours. The very name shows this. It is not called “Alpha and Omega course” but simply “Alpha course” because it doesn’t claim to lead people from beginning to end in faith; only to help them get acquainted with it, to foster a personal encounter with Jesus, leaving it to other Church departments to develop the newly rekindled faith.
Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa
Appointed Preacher to the Papal Household by Pope John Paul II
The U.S. arm of Alpha International is poised for a new surge of growth through its world renowned evangelism program, the Alpha course. The 10-week small group experience for those within and outside the church promises to bring spiritual life-change into U.S. cities and towns, churches, workplaces, homes, cafeterias, prisons and universities. And, yes, into the hearts of thousands of people—changing, renewing and transforming them for Christ. Why such a “hope-filled” forecast?
For starters, the aptly named Alpha course is all about new beginnings and setting life-change in motion in ways that have proved effective around the world. Since it was launched in London’s Holy Trinity Church-Brompton (HTB) in the late 1970’s, and with the introduction of Alpha Publishing in the early ‘90’s, the Alpha course has reached 18 million people in 169 countries and in 113 languages. Great Britain, France, Japan, South Africa and dozens of other countries have seen huge increases in the number of personal commitments to Jesus Christ. According to various research studies, one-half of participants in Alpha make a commitment or recommitment to Christ.
Popular media has noted this astounding response. Not only has Time magazine asserted that the Alpha course has sparked an unexpected and largely unnoticed spiritual awakening in HTB’s London, where crowds of young people “line up hundreds deep each week” for the next Alpha gathering, but it also reveals, “Many claim Alpha has changed their lives and appear genuinely happier for the experience.” Newsweek notes, “Alpha. . . uses modern methods to promote and explain Christian teachings around the world.” And Susan Lee, senior editor of Forbes exclaims, “It works. I can testify to that. Indeed, it even worked for snobby old me.”
*Gerard Long, president Alpha USA is available for interviews.