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Alpha answers tough questions

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news Rosemount, 55024

Rosemount Minnesota P.O. Box 192 / 312 Oak St. 55024

Pastor Jason Miller isn't afraid of questions about God. He welcomes them. And so the pastor at Community of Hope Church will offer Alpha Course starting Sept. 18.

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The course explores the meaning of life and the foundation to the Christian faith in a safe environment over 10 weeks. Topics addressed include: Is there a God? Why am I here? Where did I come from? Where am I going?

The course is open to anyone with questions about God or Christianity. It's not meant to boost church membership but to give people information.

Miller said Alpha is for anyone who has questions, whether or not they believe in Jesus Christ. Over the length of the course participants will cover 12 topics. During each session there will be time for people to ask tough questions. No question is considered taboo.

"One game we like to play is stump the pastor," said Miller.

The church will welcome as many people as will come. In the past they have gotten groups of 60 to 70 people to come out. However, in the past few years, class sizes have been closer to 25 to 30 people.

The course will take place on Sunday evenings Sept. 18 through Nov. 13. Childcare is available at no charge for children ages 0 to 8.

The first meeting will feature the Alpha Dinner, which includes music by local artist Ryan Paul and a short keynote presentation. Keynote speaker Jason Miller will address the question: "Is there more to life than this?" This dinner is open to the public and all are welcome.

Miller said the church has provided the Alpha Course since it started 10 years ago. Alpha began at Holy Trinity Brompton in central London, in the late 1970s. In the 1990s when Nicky Gumbel took over the course, Alpha was a central feature of the church's life. While leading his second Alpha course, Gumbel realized this course could also appeal to non-churchgoers and he adapted it, making it welcoming and suitable for such individuals.

Miller said Alpha became popular in the United States in the early 2000s.

The course involves a video series, but Miller said they like to modify the program and throw Community of Hope's flair into it.

"We want to have really honest conversations about what Christianity is and why we believe what we believe," said Miller.

Audra Lehnert went through the Alpha Course several years ago. Already a Christian Lehnert said the programmed helped firm up her faith.

"It meets people where they are," said Lehnert. "Alpha gives you information you need to make a decision."

While she is a Christian, Lehnert said throughout the course she never felt pressured to be so during the classes.

"It's really a safe place to get questions answered," she said.

More information about Alpha is available at cohlc.org or visit www.alphausa.org.

To pre-register for the Alpha Dinner contact Lori Reller, the Alpha coordinator at 651-322-5679 or at lorireller@cohl.org.

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