[ACNS source: Religious Media Agency] The Australian National Alpha Conference, held November 17-18 in the Hillsong Conference Centre, Baulkham Hills, explained perfectly what Alpha courses are all about and how to conduct them in a variety of locations.
The guest speakers, the Revd Nicky Gumbel and the Vicar, the Revd Sandy Millar, are both from Holy Trinity Brompton, an Anglican Church in London, where the Revd Charles Marnham first started Alpha courses in 1977. Their years of experience in sharing the whole concept and professional communication skills enabled those present to understand better what was possible and practical in sharing Christianity with others.
Other guests included Emmy Wilson, who began Alpha for Prisons and musician Andy Piercy, who provided the musical items.
Approximately 2,000 representatives attended from across Australia, as well as from a variety of overseas countries, to participate in the main auditorium meetings, as well as workshops and seminars.
At the Opening Meeting, the Senior Minister of the Hillsong Church, Pastor Brian Houston, welcomed the guests, supported by the Revd Professor James Haire, President of the National Council of Churches in Australia, as well as the Revd Tim Costello, the former National President of the Baptist Union of Australia.
Mr Millar, who is known for his experience in church growth ministry, explained that the reason Alpha had been so successful was because; "the Holy Spirit has adopted it". It has proved its positive attributes in 80% of the prisons in the United Kingdom and has been used by every mainline denomination to explain Christianity to those who do not attend churches.
Mr Gumbel, who took over the running of the Alpha courses in 1990, stated that the aim of an Alpha Course is to "introduce people to the Lord Jesus Christ and Him crucified".
The lectures that followed over the next two days, dealt with The Principles of Alpha, The Practicalities, a Model Alpha Evening, Small Groups and Pastoral Care, Ministry on Alpha, Questions and Answers and Integrating Alpha into the Church.
Some of the practical issues included ideas on how "hosts" should welcome "guests" and finishing with the subject: How Can a Person be Full of the Holy Spirit.
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