The first Alpha session was held at Corpus Christi Church on Monday, Jan. 16, at 6 p.m. but Catholics are invited to join at anytime.  The 10-week program will meet every Monday for open-minded discussion, prayer and fellowship, offering a space for Catholics and non-Catholics to ask questions and explore faith together.
The first Alpha session was held at Corpus Christi Church on Monday, Jan. 16, at 6 p.m. but Catholics are invited to join at anytime. The 10-week program will meet every Monday for open-minded discussion, prayer and fellowship, offering a space for Catholics and non-Catholics to ask questions and explore faith together.
It’s that time of year again. The Christmas ornaments and Nativity pieces are packed away and the New Year’s champagne is long gone. After the high of the Christmas season, the first few weeks of the year can feel a little lonely. Fortunately, there’s a new program to fill that need.

In collaboration with the Southern Saratoga County Parish Network, Corpus Christi Church in Round Lake is hosting an Alpha U.S. program starting on Jan. 16 and running through March 27. The 10-week program will meet every Monday for open-minded discussion, prayer and fellowship, offering a space for Catholics and non-Catholics to ask questions and explore faith together.

“We’re there to listen and journey,” said Eileen Earle, pastoral associate for Parish Life and Management at Corpus Christi, who has been instrumental in bringing the Alpha program to the Saratoga area. “This is a wonderful opportunity to learn about this program that really brings people back to the basics of Jesus’ ministry. To listen, to be present, to not be judgmental, to invite them into a conversation and let them take this journey of faith at their speed. We really wanted to do this in our network.”

Last summer, Earle coordinated with the other parishes in the Southern Saratoga County Parish Network (All Saints on the Hudson, St. Edward the Confessor, and St. Mary’s Crescent) to organize their local Synod Session. At the session, Earle heard numerous attendees wish for more community engagement and small-group gatherings. That call was still weighing on her heart when she heard about the Alpha Program.

Earle was contacted about Alpha’s leadership program offered at Christ the King Center in Greenwich, which is a ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Albany. After reading that the program focused on fellowship through group gatherings, it felt like an answer to the synod’s prayers.

Earle attended the program with Stephanie Hughes, parish life coordinator at St. Mary’s Church, and Andrew Sutton, parish business administrator for St. Edward the Confessor. The program hit home for Earle and inspired the group to offer the program for their own church community.

“I get excited when I have an opportunity to talk about it,” Earle said. “I just want people to feel like I do, and it was a long journey for me to be where I am with my relationship with God. People are hurting, people are angry, and (this gets people) back to the basics where Jesus would just meet people around a meal and talk.

The program originated in 1977 out of a parish in the Church of England in London. Years later and the format is still the same: organized as a series of sessions over 10 weeks, each session starts with a meal, followed by a talk and then discussion in small groups that aims to cover the basics of Christianity and questions on faith.

Each meeting at Corpus Christi will last 90 minutes and start with a meal in the church hall. The evening will transition into watching a video provided by Alpha, which dives into various topics and questions about Christianity. “It does a nice job of addressing those questions everybody has in their lifetime,” Earle said. “Why am I here? Why do bad things happen to good people? Is there a God? It’s that basic in the first session.”

Earle noted that the simplicity of the program is one of its biggest assets. “Jesus just wants us to be welcoming and love people and find something in them that he sees, and that’s how I live my life,” she said. “I feel like this program really can be that simple. Please come, please share a meal with us, let’s watch this video and sit in a small group and let’s talk about it.”

Added Earle: “We’re there to listen and journey and allow people to share their thoughts and questions, and allow people to work together in relationship and let the Holy Spirit be there and guide them. I really feel like it can be that simple, starting with relationships, and once the Spirit is with them, the Spirit will do the work. (Maybe they) learn more about the Catholic religion, or maybe they don’t, but I feel like I’m called to be that light to show people what’s available to you. If you can open your heart to it, God will do the rest.”

The first Alpha session was held at Corpus Christi Church, 2001 Route 9, Round Lake, on Monday, Jan. 16, at 6 p.m. but Catholics are invited to join at anytime. For questions, contact Eileen Earle at (518) 877-8506 ext. 308 or [email protected]¬≠christichurch.net. For more information, visit https://alphausa.org.