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Why are we here? Who is Jesus? Why and how should I pray? How can I be sure of my “faith”? Do these sound like questions you have? Would you like to ask and discuss these issues with others, without obligation to join a faith, attend a church or “get saved?” The Episcopal Church on West Kaua‘i is offering a series of free, non-denominational, weekly talks addressing key issues of the Christian faith, beginning Sunday, Aug. 29 at St. John’s Episcopal, located at 322 Mehana Road in ‘Ele‘ele. The free course is open to mature youth through adults.
The Alpha Course offers an opportunity for anyone to explore the Christian faith in a relaxed, nonthreatening manner, states Alpha USA, the developers of the course.
“It’s for people who might want to talk about ‘the big questions’ and to invite people into discussion about the basic tenets of Christianity,” said the Reverend Mary D. Lindquist, Vicar of the Episcopal Church on West Kaua‘i.
The first session will focus on the question “Christianity: boring, untrue, irrelevant?” Who is this for? º Those wanting to investigate Christianity.
• New Christians.
• Those who feel that they have never really “got going” as a Christian.
• Newcomers to the church.
• Those who want to brush up on the basics.
Each week, participants gather for a light meal at the beginning of each session which gives people a chance to get to know each other.
The session begins with a video by Nikki Gumbal, an ordained minister and the creator of Alpha.
Participants gather in small groups lead by members of the community, to listen, learn, discuss and discover.
Topics shall include “Who is Jesus?,” “Why Did Jesus Die?,” “How Can I be Sure of My Faith?,” and “Does God Still Heal Today?,” followed by small group interaction.
“And ask anything. Alpha is a place where no question is too simple or too hostile,” Alpha International organizers said on their Web site.
“It used to be that the United States, maybe not so much Hawai‘i though, is traditionally Christian and people had a sense of the church, who Jesus is.
Nowadays there are so many different faiths and people don’t have as much contact,” Lindquist said.
“On Kaua‘i there’s a lot of churches and temples, but that doesn’t mean that everyone has been exposed,” Lindquist added.
“Alpha is enjoyed and appreciated as much by those who have never set foot in a church as it is by those who once attended and by the regular churchgoer.
No matter what their background, whether investigating Christianity for the first time or revisiting their faith, participants get a lot out of an Alpha Course,” the Alpha USA Web site said.
About Alpha Alpha USA says that churches of every different type and background — including Anglican, Baptist, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, Methodist, Pentecostal, Salvation Army, Free Church and House Churches — are running Alpha courses.
Because Alpha covers the basics of Christianity, all churches provide the same material, making alterations only to suit the local culture. Alpha originated at Holy Trinity Brompton, an Anglican church in London, England, more than 20 years ago.
The syllabus of the course is contained in the Book “Questions of Life” by the Rev. Nicky Gumbel.
There are more than 5,000 Alpha courses running in the United States and about 1 million people in America and Canada have participated.
What others say about the course “When I first heard about the Alpha course I was at a stage when I was searching for something ‘out there.’ I really needed to ask questions and not feel like I was getting a hard-sell pitched at me. Now I perceive things differently and just feel so at peace. I have also met a wonderful bunch of new friends on the course.” — Mark Grey, analyst “What Alpha offers, and what is attracting thousands of people, is permission, rare in secular culture, to discuss the big questions — life and death and their meaning.” — Madeleine Bunting, writer.
Get going Anyone can come to the first three classes to see what it’s all about. Thereafter, sessions will be closed to the initial group.
“There is no cost for this course, and no obligations.
If you have not yet participated in an Alpha course, we hope you will come and give it a try. If you have already participated in the course, please invite others to join the course,” Lindquist suggested.
Child care is available; call ahead for arrangements.
The Alpha Course will be offered Sundays beginning Aug. 29, from 5 to 7:30 p.m. at St. John’s Episcopal, 322 Mehana Road in ‘Ele‘ele. Register by calling 335-5533 or by simply showing up.
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