Authors: Vira Kravchuk and Mariia Lysikova
“Why do people suffer?”, “What is the meaning of life?”, “Is there more to life than this?” are some of the questions that Alpha project participants ask and try to find the answers to every Tuesday evening.
Alpha is an 11-week course connected to faith and philosophy that started on January 28th. It takes place in the Neumann lobby every Tuesday evening at 6:30 pm.
On the first night of the event, close to a hundred people gathered to eat a fulfilling dinner, watch a video, and discuss it afterward while having dessert. The event also united students and staff and faculty members: each discussion table hosted about 7-10 students and their conversation was led by a table leader from staff and faculty.
Alpha focuses on the ideas of Christianity, morality, and philosophy and allows everyone to share their thoughts no matter what perspective a person holds. Every idea is acceptable for Alpha. Healthy disagreement and constructive criticism are essential parts of the Alpha project.
“I like that Alpha is a warm and welcoming atmosphere and that it is a comfortable place to explore ideas as questions and consider Christianity,” said Hannah Schundler, discipleship coordinator. Hannah Schundler has organized Alpha at LCC for the last three years. She enjoys how the LCC community seeks answers for questions of life’s purpose and faith. According to Hannah, Alpha opens the space for sharing and comprehending ideas of religion and moral foundations that never bothered some people or just remained undiscovered fully.
“Some of the questions do not have easy answers for or even an answer in general. It is not so much about answering as it is about exploring, seeing what the Bible has to say, seeing what our experiences are, and listening to what other people think,” Schundler said.
Sofiya Mamedova, a freshman Communication major student, first participated in Alpha on January 28th.
“I came here to find answers because it is pretty hard sometimes to find answers inside yourself so talking to somebody else is easier and helps you to find the way out,” said Sofiya.
Sofiya shared that she did not get all the answers because this first event’s theme was running on a surface but she became more interested and would like to go deeper and continue going to Alpha. She also shared that she found it surprising that even though there were a lot of examples of believers, nobody was trying to convince her. They were simply stories of inspiration.
Alpha volunteers find making the program happen as fulfilling as the participants the course themselves.
Chris Van Zanen, a volunteer for the Alpha course, shared that her experience with Alpha was transformative spiritually.
“I have seen people being transformed by Alpha, but it’s their stories to tell,” she said. “As for me, my life was impacted too, for example, when I went to the Alpha center in London. I met Nicky Gumbel, the creator of the Alpha course, and visiting the Alpha center was a turning point for me.”
Chris Van Zanen thinks that Alpha is perfect because it brings people together with a meal, the flow of conversation is easier because of the hospitable atmosphere. A variety of faith backgrounds are brought together in a neutral and safe environment. Alpha is essentially about understanding the Christian faith, which is a big part of LCC as a Christian Liberal Arts University.
Chris also said that if she had to describe Alpha in three words, she would say “potentially life-changing”.