ASSIGNMENT: During a Session meeting in the fall of 2000, our former Pastor, Reverend Peter Barrow, challenged us to look into the Alpha Course. After gathering information we reported back to Session, which led to the decision that Knox should move forward by sending three representatives to the upcoming Alpha Conference to be hosted by Bramalea Baptist Church in May 2001.
TIME LINE: Attending the conference showed us the need to delay our Alpha plans pending appointment of an Interim Moderator by Presbytery upon Peter's retirement in the autumn; we felt the best time to launch would be early in the New Year.
Now witness the gifts of the Holy Spirit in action:
Presbytery appointed Rev. Dr. Douglas McQuaig as Knox's Interim Moderator. Learning of Knox's intention to launch the Alpha Course, Dr. McQuaig said, "St. Andrew's Streetsville is beginning their ninth Alpha course at the same time; we can help walk you through the process" (what an understatement).
What took place next is the epitome of Presbyterians sharing the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Dr. McQuaig supplied the Knox Alpha Team with computer templates for the invitation to be mailed out, plus computer copies of the sign-up sheets and the layout to be used when the lists were posted on a brightly decorated easel board so our people would not walk on by without noticing them. Nothing was to be left to chance!
Dr. McQuaig held joint training meetings for the Alpha Teams of Knox and St. Andrew's alternating the meeting places between our two locations. Then he said, "One of our members is a professional chef — we'll buy all the food for both St. Andrew's and Knox invitational dinners at the same time, which will save money. Knox will just pay for their share and our people will come and prepare the reception snacks and punch, cook and serve the meal and clean up after it." He topped this off by supplying us with a list of twelve suggested menus for each week's meal! Knox had 66 people come out to the invitational dinner and 48 signed up for Alpha Course (five were from our surrounding community), which allowed us to form four small groups of twelve each.
Then St. Andrew's loaned us their digital projector each week for the entire Alpha Course. Dr. McQuaig booked the Salvation Army Conference Centre at Jackson's Point for the weekend away, and again both St. Andrew's and Knox joined together, which meant approximately 44 Alpha participants enjoyed the spiritual instruction, praise and fellowship. The enthusiastic response of the people who attended has spread to the ones who couldn't make it for this weekend and several have indicated they don't want to miss it next year.
The Holy Spirit has not stopped watching over us either.
On Sunday, January 27, 2002 the Presbytery of Brampton conducted a Service of Recognition for The Rev. Dr. Robert Spencer, Knox's Interim Minister for the next year. He is passionate about the walk of faith he will lead us on during the coming year. The Guest Preacher at the Service of Recognition was Rev. Calvin Brown (Renewal Fellowship). His message gave very strong support to the Alpha process and encouragement to the congregation as we move forward on our walk of faith.
The support Knox has received from our spiritual leaders using the gifts given to them by the Holy Spirit, along with all the other individuals from both St. Andrew's and Knox who shared their gifts of the Spirit, was nothing short of miraculous. We found the Alpha Course resulted in a straightforward and effective method of presenting the gospel of Christ in a manner that is clear and non-threatening to people from all walks of life. We must have it every year from now on.
What a great way to fan the flames of active evangelism!