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UK News

Alpha Course sign-ups triple during UK lockdown

by Heather Preston

Alpha's new virtual course has seen thousands of sign-ups across the UK since the start of the coronavirus lockdown.

The Alpha Course, run by Holy Trinity Brompton (HTB) has adapted its sessions - which explore the meaning of life from a Christian perspective - for online use during the pandemic.

According to the head of Northern Ireland Alpha, Jonny Campbell there are now 1,500 digital Alpha courses happening across the country via the video conferencing platform Zoom.

Director of communications for Alpha International, Mark Elsdon-Dew, told Premier the digital courses have been more successful than they had anticipated.

"We've never done alpha online before. And we didn't really think it would work, I suppose. And so it's been a massive surprise that it has. And we haven't had to adapt very much"

"All we've done with the groups is do them on Zoom, instead of sitting there in the church. Everyone seems to be loving them and nobody's dropping out, which is another extraordinary thing."

Each online session has a short teaching video addressing a different element of the Christian faith followed by a time of group discussion and prayer.

HTB has seen guest attendance triple since it went online. According to Elsdon-Dew, over 1,600 people are currently registered to a course, while the church's traditional summer Alpha Course would usually have between 400 - 500 guests. 

Elsdon-Dew explains that a time of global crisis can cause people to start wondering about the 'big questions' of life and Alpha provides an opportunity to explore those.

He predicts that online Alpha courses will become a permanent fixture for both HTB and other churches using the course material, as the digital format is easier for some people.

"I think online courses are here to stay. 

"Some people say that it is just easier for them to be at home, as it can be hard to get out. Other people say they wouldn't have gone anywhere near a church, but they are very happy to give it a go at home in a slightly more remote setting.

"There are about 7000 churches around the country that run alpha and I wouldn't be surprised if lots and lots of those aren't starting permanent online alpha courses too."

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