Alpha program helps people find answersPublished 1:13pm Thursday, October 3, 2013
When Cory Reinertson went to his first Alpha meeting more than three years ago, he was a self-proclaimed “lukewarm Christian.”
“I wanted to become the spiritual leader in my household,” Reinertson said. “I thought I was going to church thinking all the right things and having all the right answers.”
But Reinertson, who had been attending Bethel Lutheran Church for almost 10 years, wanted to get more out of his religious experience. The Alpha program helped him get that and he has been a helper and a leader in the group ever since.
Alpha is a program designed for those who have questions about their faith or about Christianity in general. The group meets every Monday during two separate 11-week sessions, one in the fall and another in the spring.
Every meeting has about 15-20 guests, a few of whom tend to stick around the group after the session is over, Reinertson said.
The program is completely run by volunteers, including Reinertson and Doug Thorson, who heads up the group. Reinertson first met Thorson after
Thorson presented about Alpha during a service at Bethel Lutheran Church. This was the meeting that led Reinertson to Alpha.
Rev. David Foss, the head pastor at Bethel Lutheran, said the group is a useful tool in helping people learn more about Christianity because it enables them to discuss in smaller groups what they may not be able to during a Sunday service.
“When they are able to receive the message through this tool, it really does make an impact in their lives,” Foss said.
Foss, who teaches at an Alpha retreat during both the fall and spring sessions, also commended the work the volunteers put into the group. For Reinertson, it can be difficult dealing with guests who have been through a personal trauma, including death or sickness. But that’s where the group discussion at Alpha meetings comes into play.
“The great thing about the small group is the majority of the group may have a small tidbit from their past that can help,” Reinertson said.
The best Alpha meetings are the ones where the leaders do not speak much, instead giving way to healthy discussion amongst the guests, according to Reinertson.
But the group is not just for churchgoers who have more questions than can be answered during regular services. Past sessions have usually included one or two guests who are non-religious, which Reinertson said was more than welcome in what he described as a “non-threatening” atmosphere.
“You can sit there and say nothing or you can sit there and answer all the questions,” he said. “Sometimes they find the answers and sometimes they don’t.”