2018-08-09 / Living

Meaning of Life discussed during free local dinners

By Tanya Terry
810-452-2645 • tterry@mihomepaper.com

At Alpha meetings held internationally churchgoers and non-churchgoers can gather together at tables to discuss many matters of life. At Alpha meetings held internationally churchgoers and non-churchgoers can gather together at tables to discuss many matters of life. BURTON — A series of videos, free dinners and discussion designed for people who don’t go to church to explore the meaning of life and the basic truths of Christian faith will start back after a break in September through Holy Redeemer Catholic Church.

Alpha will meet every Wednesday for 12 weeks starting Sept. 19 beginning in the church’s Family Life Center and is open to the entire community. In the past, the series has been held through the church at various local restaurants, such as Tia Helita’s, and free dinners at area eateries will continue to be offered on session days. Childcare will be provided, with advance notice of the need for it. Drinks, including wine, will also be paid for by the church.

Alpha was started in 1977 by the Reverend Charles Marnham at Holy Trinity Brompton, a parish in London. The course is now running in over 169 countries and in more than 112 languages, with more than 24 million people having taken the course. Alpha is held on university campuses (including the University of Michigan), at coffee shops, in homes, in restaurants, in bars and in prisons.

“I came with my girlfriends,” said Kara Ebbott, a member at Holy Redeemer who volunteers for Alpha.

“We were struggling with anxiety and depression,” Ebbott added.

Ebbott said her mind was consumed with thoughts about the Flint Water Crisis, but she decided to give Alpha a try. According to Ebbott, she was a churchgoer who went to church and went straight home. She now sings in church and volunteers for Alpha

“To see transformation in yourself and others is amazing,” she said. “We also play games and tell jokes. Alpha is fun!”

Training sessions are given for volunteers for 2 ½ hours before the sessions begin, teaching them to both facilitate conversations and allow for silence.

Video topics have ranged from forgiveness to prayer. Team leaders ask two to three questions to get all sorts of conversations started.

“One lady’s husband committed suicide,” said Rafael Urgino, the church’s director of evangelism.

“She was devastated,” Urgino added. “She had faith, but she didn’t go to church. She has since helped lead a table at Alpha.”

Other people just come for the free dinner and end up getting more out of it, according to Matt Myers, another church member who volunteers for Alpha. Myers and his wife saw a video presentation about Alpha while visiting another church for a wedding which peaked their interest before being asked what they thought about it by Urgino.

“We are non-judgmental,” he said. “We don’t force anything on anyone.”

Holy Redeemer has opened its doors for community youth basketball and pizza, has members that go door to door to pray for people who want it, offers community lunches every Thursday and will begin again offering a non-denominational service on Sundays starting August 12. The church has given invitations to area residents, left information at coffee shops and announced Alpha on the radio.

“Even at work, if you’re “friends” with people, there’s a line like we’re Christian or we’re liberal,” said Jossette Urgino, a church member who volunteers for Alpha.

“There’s something about when you’re eating good and there’s nice music,” Urgino added. “Suddenly, we’re not Christian or liberal. You’re who you are.”

Details: 810-743-3050

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