Church course for curious people asking big questions

Bear Grylls has taken part in the Alpha Course     (Shutterstock)
Bear Grylls has taken part in the Alpha Course (Shutterstock)
Hana Young and her daughter Tilly 'Picture: Duncan Shepherd (180359-004)

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ONE of the good things about wearing a dog collar is that people instantly know I’m a vicar (although the tradition in Alverstoke is to call me the rector).

Sometimes that means we miss out the small talk at dinner parties or in the pub.

People instantly want to talk about the big questions: why do I believe in God?

Who was Jesus? And why would a loving God allow so much suffering in the world?

I’m always very happy to discuss these things – and always fascinated to find out why other people don’t believe in God, or believe something different about him.

That’s why I love being involved with the Alpha Course.

It gives people a chat through precisely these kind of big questions with a group of others who are also curious.

We’re starting a brand new series of Alpha nights next Wednesday from 7.15pm-9.15pm in St Mary’s Parish Centre, in Green Lane.

We start each session by watching a video that asks us to think about a different big question each week.

Then we’ll share some dessert or pudding together.

And then we’ll chat about this week’s topic.

No question is out of bounds – you can ask anything you like, and tell us exactly what you think.

Hopefully we can also explain why we believe Christianity is the answer.

Over 11 weeks, we’ll look at 11 big questions together each Wednesday night.

If you come for the first week, there’s no obligation to come back.

You don’t have to join in the conversation – you can just listen.

All we ask is that you give it a try.

Those who have been on previous Alpha Courses at St Mary’s have enjoyed the company, appreciated the relaxed atmosphere, and been stimulated by the discussion.

And I enjoy it because when someone asks me a difficult question, I sometimes have to think quite hard about what I do believe and why.

As a vicar, it’s good to be challenged in that way.

You can read more about it on alpha.org or stmarysalverstoke.org.uk/the-alpha-course. Or you can sign up by calling (023) 9258 0551 or emailing me at rector.alverstoke@btinternet.com.