The St Martin’s Alpha Course commenced in September 2015. This was St Martin’s first attempt to run the extremely popular Alpha Course and there was a distinct nervousness concerning whether a small Church like St Martin’s had the resources to run such a course and whether sufficient people would attend to make it a worthwhile. It was decided not to put an onerous commitment for those wishing to attend, by holding monthly sessions, rather than the more usual weekly sessions. The increased length of time to complete the course was accepted.
We need not have worried, there is a regular attendance of about 15 people. Although not everyone is able to attend every meeting for a variety of reasons, but this is normal. The course members are in no-way all St Martin’s members. However, most are practising Christians who attend local Churches.
Each of the monthly sessions commences with a meal, which is funded by the Church and therefore free to those attending the course. Small donations to assist with the costs of the meal, although in no way compulsory, are gratefully accepted.
Following the meal a video presentation by Nicky Gumbel, the designer of the current Alpha Course, is shown. Nicky’s presentation is generally concerning some aspect of Christianity to which most people have given thought, but is rarely the subject of traditional sermons. Nicky gives a very thorough, but very interesting and relevant treatment to the subject matter, which no-one can fail to understand.
Following the presentation, the group splits into groups to discuss the presentation. During the course there has been some experimenting with group sizes, by commencing with a single large discussion group, but then splitting into smaller groups in the later sessions. Currently it is difficult to appreciate what size works best, since different people have different preferences, but this is a minor consideration.
This article has been written following the fifth session of the course and although it is universally acknowledged that the course is proceeding very well, there is still some way to go before the course is completed and a final verdict solicited. There is a weekend away planned for all course members in April. The weekend is being held at the Abbott Hall Christian Hotel, Grange-over-Sands.
This report will be updated as the course progresses.