August 24, 2017
Big life questions can make anyone feel vulnerable, and taking the first step to figure it out is nerve-wracking. Alpha is a place to explore those questions, but if you’re still not sure if it’s the right place for you, check out what other people are saying, below. Chances are, you’re not alone.
(Wondering what Alpha is all about? Read our post, “What Is Alpha?” for more information.)
Before attending Alpha, I happened to be a very new Christian. I had recently moved back to the area when a friend asked if I'd like to go to her church. After enjoying the service, she recommended I try Alpha.
The environment and people were inviting and non-threatening. The format was casual yet organized, the food provided was outstanding, and the dinner conversation was fun.
Alpha offered an opportunity to explore and talk with others like me about central topics pertinent to Christianity as well as my questions and doubts. It was an entry into what I now know will be an ongoing and lifetime process of exploring and building my faith in God as well as building my community that is connected with it. Alpha is a great first step if you are a person who is exploring whether Christianity is for you.
Alpha was a wonderful experience! I was hesitant at first, but felt very comfortable and welcomed by the group. I really enjoyed the format and the video and topic to focus on each week. The narrative of the video was more educational and thought provoking than "preachy" (which is what I expected).
What I loved the most about Alpha was that I was able to ask questions, discuss my apprehension and, at times, skepticism, and the group responded in a way that made me feel I was not alone in my thoughts and my questions. I plan to go through Alpha again and look forward to what I will gain my next time through.
~ Christine Burke
I did not grow up in a church or even go to church much aside from the occasional service when the grandparents came to town. With that in mind, I found Alpha to be exactly what I needed. Alpha was inviting, fun, chock-full of information, and just what I needed as my first introduction to religion. I felt supported without feeling forced or overwhelmed, which was a very calming feeling as I often have a lot of anxiety when I explore things I’m new to. Alpha was truly a perfect way to start on my journey of knowing Christ.
~ Christopher Davis
I learned of Alpha and saw it as my opportunity to approach Christianity fresh to see if it resonated with me. Sure enough, God moved in my heart every week. One session the video explained that many people think you need understanding in order to have faith, but really, you need faith in order to understand. I had assumed I needed to figure out my doubts and questions before finding God, but a small step of faith was all that was needed on my part in order for God to reveal His truth and help me understand.
On the Alpha retreat, we were asked to visualize our hearts as a garden. I saw that mine was empty dirt, fertile soil containing seeds ready to be watered and tended. I realized that the weeds - the doubts and fears that had littered my soul since childhood - were gone. The Lord had taken them from me, and I felt at peace.
~ Beth Brinley
If any of these testimonials resonate with you, we’d love to see you at Alpha. Join us at 6pm on September 13, 2017 at Church of the Resurrection. Let us know you’re coming by signing up here. We can’t wait to see you!
August 18, 2017
Beloved Family of God in the Upper Midwest Diocese:
Thank you for your prayers and support as my family took time for vacation (in the forests and lakes of Minnesota and Wisconsin) and study focus in July and early August. The Provincial Assembly was even stronger than I had hoped, but it was also even busier than I had anticipated, so I was thankful for family time and rest.
As is my usual discipline, I was offline as much as possible, so I did not learn of the Charlottesville tragedy until my return to Church of the Resurrection last Sunday morning. I am so thankful for our Archbishop’s pastoral letter that stated—unequivocally—that “racism is contrary to the Gospel and has no place in the Church.” It is right and good that any violence be denounced, and especially the violence of white supremacy. But we must go beyond right and holy denouncements to renewed determination.
I had the opportunity to meet with Pastor Michael Wright to hear how he and his people at True Freedom (an African-American church in Oak Park, IL that is in an intentional ministry partnership with our diocese) are processing Charlottesville. The first thing that Pastor Michael spoke of was revival—the great need for revival. May this be our determination as a diocese in light of not only Charlottesville, but also of the evils of racial injustice, violence, and the activity of the Kingdom of Darkness throughout our country. Jesus has given our diocese a mission: to plant a Revival of Word and Sacrament Infused by the Holy Spirit. This mission is the way forward as we seek to minister the fullness of the Gospel into every aspect of our culture. And let me be clear: that is precisely what we are seeking to do.
Toward that end, I want to invite those of us in Chicagoland to be a part of a ministry initiated by Pastor Michael and Canon William Beasley: they are calling our diocese to form multiple teams of about five people each to visit different African-American churches throughout the West Side of Chicago. The purpose of these visits will be to build friendship and Gospel communion with one another. This is the vision, as Pastor Michael and Canon William call it, of “walking across the street.”
Everyone is invited to join us on Saturday, September 16 for joint worship and an orientation for this new ministry opportunity. We will gather at the Greenhouse Mission Center in Oak Park, IL. More details will be forthcoming, and they will be sent out diocese-wide so that all can be praying. (If you already know that you want to be a part of one of these teams or have questions, please contact our cathedral Mission Director, Kaitlyn Wallett, at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Other leaders in other regions of the diocese may be inspired to lead a similar ministry. Praise God, and please be in touch with Canon William if this is the case.
I am also thrilled to announce that Pastor Michael will be joining us at Church of the Resurrection to preach the Word of God on Sunday, October 1. There will be an opportunity to hear more from him in an afternoon seminar about his vision for deeper partnership between our diocese and African-American churches on the West Side. Audio recordings of both events will be distributed as well.
Please ensure that prayers are offered on Sunday in Prayers of the People for the people of Charlottesville, for the pushing back of the scourge of racism in our country, and for the work of revival in our diocese. And please make this a personal commitment as well. I also understand that many will not be able to attend the September 16 meeting, but will want to make a difference. For ideas on how you can respond, please listen to Pastor Matt Woodley’s recent sermon here.
Bishop Stewart Ruch III
on behalf of the Deans of the Diocese of the Upper Midwest
Fr. Christian Ruch
Fr. Eirik Olsen
Canon and Missioner General William Beasley