Hugh Appel is the minister of Knox Presbyterian Church, Wallaceburg, Ont.
In September of 1997 Knox Church, Wallaceburg, after months of planning began a shared ministry with the Roman Catholic Church teaching the course called, "Alpha." Our first enrolment was 45 people. We considered it a most positive beginning. The program itself originates from England. It started as an attempt to bring people back to Christ who had either left the Church, didn't know the Saviour, or perhaps went to a Sunday School and dropped out after that. One of the important things that comes with the course is a shared meal. We wondered if we could pull it off, to find enough people who would prepare a dinner for ten weeks. We soon learned there was no need to worry about it at all. The first dinner was prepared by members of the Session and members of the Parish Council of the Roman Catholic Church. The results were amazing and the food was great. We met at 6:15 p.m. for prayer, standing in a large circle holding hands and asking God's Holy Spirit to open our eyes and hearts to the challenge of growing in Jesus Christ. Dinner followed. Our Praise Team led us in some singing. After several weeks it became a true time of praise and celebration, without a doubt enjoyed by all.
The ten weeks were a true highlight in the life and work of the churches in our community. We had people involved from the Salvation Army, Baptist Church, Anglican Church, United Church, Roman Catholic Church and Presbyterian Church. The Holy Spirit Day took place in the middle of the ten weeks. It turned out to be an exciting day which we celebrated in Chatham, renting the facilities from the Salvation Army. For some of our people it seemed at first a little frightening. After all, many of us are not too familiar with the work of the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts. It turned out to be a real celebration. Since then we have completed another Alpha Course and are almost done with a small group which meets on Wednesday mornings.
At Knox Church prayer is on the increase like we have never seen before. Elders have formed Prayer Teams that are praying with people following the morning worship celebrations. As well, many people get together for prayer prior to the morning services. The Praise team shares real joy in worship and we are convinced that Jesus Christ is being discovered all over again in our community and certainly at Knox Church. That's something I never thought could happen even a few years ago.
We had a celebration of Praise and Thanksgiving in April with all the people who have shared Alpha as well those who are considering taking the course in September. All in all, a most exciting way of sharing a living Christ.
If you are thinking of starting Alpha, look out, the dust will be falling off the rafters. At Knox Church, Wallaceburg, we bring glory to God in Christ for helping us to be renewed, and being one in the Spirit with our brothers and sisters of the neighbouring Roman Catholic Church.
A final warning. If you are thinking about starting Alpha, praise God. However, Satan will do anything to oppose it. Start praying and remember, "No weapon that is formed against you shall prosper" (Isaiah 54:17).