An Inuvik couple is inviting community members into their home to sit down, eat and discuss any questions they might have about Christianity and their own faith in God.
Starting May 15, David and Elaine Ross are planning on hosting an “Alpha Home Gathering” session once a week in their living room for the next 10 weeks.
According to its website, Alpha was launched in 1990 and is a worldwide program that explores the Christian faith through a series of informal sessions. These sessions tend to be hosted in settings such as homes, cafes, universities and schools.
David said the purpose of hosting the program here in Inuvik is to help residents answer any burning questions they may have about their faith in a safe and non-judgmental environment.
“It really is about building relationships more than preaching. There’s a topic every week, such as ‘Why am I here?’ But it’s not just about this religion called Christianity,” said David. “It’s answering some other questions about us personally that anyone could have in this town. ‘Is this all that there is to life? I go to work, come home, day in and day out. Is this it?’”
During the three-hour sessions, participants spend the first hour chatting and eating dinner prepared by Elaine. Following their meal, the group will sit down together and watch a half-hour video dedicated to topics such as “Who is Jesus?” or “Why did Jesus have to die?”
“Then after the video, there’s a time for discussion. It’s a non-judgemental time, which is kind of cool. People can just say whatever they want, and they’re free to say whatever they want,” said David. “Maybe it just gets people thinking. But it is a safe environment.”
By having Alpha sessions in a home setting with a small group of no more than seven people, Elaine said that the goal is to allow participants to feel welcomed so they can explore their faith without fear of being shamed.
“You won’t be judged or be told to be quiet. You can finally get this question answered that you’ve always wondered about,” she said. “Not everyone will pick up the Bible to look for answers. Once people are in a safe environment, their minds just go everywhere.”
The two have completed several Alpha programs in the past, most recently in Yellowknife in 2014. David said he’s heard all kinds of questions come from discussions in previous sessions, such as “Why does God let good people suffer?” or “How come God doesn’t hear my prayers when I pray?”
“Those people who are leading Alpha or hosting it don’t have to have all the answers. Sometimes we don’t know,” he said. “But let’s all dig together and find out together. It’s real like that. It’s relaxed and it’s informal.”
At the end of the program, Elaine said she hopes participants walk away with some answers to their questions.
“Some barriers will come down. That’s what I’m hoping. Maybe some relationships will be developed from it,” she said.
David added that even if no one comes away as a Christian by the end of the program, they’ll still be welcome in their home.
“You can believe what you want to believe at the end of it. If you still don’t believe in it, that’s your prerogative,” he said. “You can still come over for coffee. Why not?”