By Andrew McKaysmith, Synod Writer and Content Creator
Oxley Uniting Church has welcomed the Alpha course, an instructional series that introduces the fundamental concepts of Christianity. Participants engage in talks and discussions, with the course creators describing it as an opportunity to explore the meaning of life.
Reverend Dave Thomas provided insight into the Alpha course’s recent success. “It went beyond our expectations in terms of the participation numbers.” He went on to describe how they chose the course, saying, “It all started in August last year when I expressed a desire to try Alpha with our leadership team. The idea was met with some curious looks; what’s that?”
Rev Dave took one of his leaders to meet Alpha’s Church Engagement Lead, Paul (Skip) Smith, and following their conversation, a trial run was arranged for four weeks last November. The success of this experiment led to a complete course launch shortly after Easter. Rev Dave was heartened by the attendance. “19 people attended the first night. Over the subsequent nine weeks, the number grew to 21,” he said.
The program enjoyed substantial involvement from regular church attendees and those new to the church. Rev Dave recounted words from one of their main leaders: “It’s about crafting a space where people can inquire, feel secure, and explore faith.” He observed that it had been a revelation in many ways, even for those uncertain about their beliefs, as one non-churched person mentioned they were grateful for an accepting atmosphere.
The goal of the Alpha Course was to nurture conversations without enforcing beliefs, encouraging questions, and fostering open dialogue. “It’s not about converting others or claiming to know everything. It’s a journey we invite others to join,” Rev Dave said. He also shared that the Alpha experience was significant for those who had been part of the church for years, with a congregant saying to him that he’d been going to church for a long time and had never before grasped the ministry of the Holy Spirit as they had through the Alpha course.
For more information about Oxley Uniting Church’s Alpha Course, visit Oxley Uniting Church’s website: https://www.oxleyuc.org.au/