In 2022 we looked up like never before. War broke out in Ukraine and displaced 8m people. In February the continent changed, and we prayed together for Europe and especially the church in Ukraine and Russia. Every day, since February at 2.30pm CET, we look up.
Our National Offices stepped up in Poland, Romania and other countries, and helped the church to look out and meet the immediate needs of millions of Ukrainians on the move. And we prepared so that when the displaced started to look up and ask big questions, we were ready with Alpha resources for Ukrainians whatever country they were in.
We gathered all our national regional leaders together back to HTB London for ELG23 (EMENA Leaders Gathering), where our story began, coming in for refreshment, encounter and re-envisioning. We were equipped to serve the church and set our sails for the 2033 Vision, enabling everyone everywhere to encounter Jesus through Alpha. Even in the midst of uncertainty.
Amid the chaos and realignment in Europe and the ongoing challenges in the Middle East, we have seen God’s faithfulness through the volatility, uncertainty and complexity. Alpha grew 25% as we equipped more churches to push out, after the pandemic. Churches running Alpha increased by 31% to over 5000, reaching over 200,000 people for the first time ever.
It has been a remarkable year. A year of remarkable leadership from our national teams, Boards and volunteers in every denomination. We believe as we look up, gather in, and equip churches to reach out, we will see much more. As everything is shaken, Jesus remains the same yesterday, today and forever. We see so many ‘signs of spring’ in many places. Read on to see what God is doing across our beautiful and precious region in 2022 – the lands of the Bible, the early church, and historic denominations and churches, Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox, that we are working to revitalise.
Thank you for your ongoing support, prayer and interest.
Paul Davie, EMENA Executive Director
With an estimated 8 million Ukrainians having been displaced since the Ukraine crisis began in February, the response from across the region has showed real unity and faith in action. With generous donations received and churches eager to serve, we were able to support several humanitarian projects. Stanislaw Cinal, Eastern Europe’s Development Director, says “I’ve never seen anything like this before. People often divided across issues began to unite in helping refugees, opening up their hearts and homes. The churches have and are continuing to unite in response to the surrounding needs, and we have witnessed many miracles this year.”
EMENA’s largest gathering since Covid took place in June during ELG (EMENA Leaders Gathering), and it was such a blessing to be together again. ELG is the primary opportunity for EMENA core National Alpha Office staff and Board Chairs to come together to learn, be inspired and deepen relationships with each other and with God. We began the week by welcoming our 150 country leaders ‘home’ to Holy Trinity Brompton (HTB) in London, spending time immersed in the culture of the church. After our time at HTB, we spent three strategic days in Ashburnham Place, a beautiful retreat centre in East Sussex, where we continued our week with amazing guest speakers and seminars, and intentional time spent together and with God. It was a real highlight of the year for EMENA.
Alpha Collective returned this year, where we welcomed to London over 200 people. Alpha Collective is an invite-only event, running twice a year, which provides a unique opportunity to connect with peer leaders from around the world, leading strategic churches, across multiple denominations. The diverse gathering provided time for connection, refreshment and encouragement while exploring how churches can improve their Alpha in order to see its impact increased. Watch the march highlights here.
Alongside Alpha, The Marriage Course (TMC) has continued growing in EMENA and has been a great resource for churches. We were therefore excited this year to host “The Marriage Course 101”, which was an online regional conference organised by TMC coordinators and attracted around 300 guests who listened through 10 different language interpretations. It was wonderful to have Nicky & Sila Lee join, to hear about God’s vision for marriage and learn how running The Marriage Course influences church culture. The conference also allowed guests to share in small groups, ask questions and connect with their National Alpha Offices. We were particularly encouraged by the testimony of a Baptist Marriage Ministry Coordinator from the Czech Republic who said, “I always knew that The Marriage Course was larger than our church, and I felt like part of the Czech community of course leaders. But only today I realised just how big it really is, and it made me feel like part of something so large.”
The German Speaking Europe (DACH) region welcomed a 47% increase of Alpha participants this year, as well as creating multiple spaces throughout the year for in-person gatherings and shared learnings across multiple contexts including Youth and the Catholic context.
Alpha Austria in October launched the “Alpha Together” Campaign, which was led by Fr. Thomas and his team from various denominations. Alpha Together was one Alpha course, run by 20 different churches. The idea was for these churches to collaborate, share resources, and spark excitement with this city-wide campaign. With 350 people attending, it was an incredibly fruitful event, following plenty of planning and praying. It was a perfect example of unity and diversity, and Alpha Austria’s dream is to hold this campaign every Autumn, in every city!
Gen Z Tour
After many conversations and observations, Alpha Germany were confronted with the challenge that faces many churches, which is of reaching teenagers and young people with the Gospel.
In November, Alpha Germany teamed up with SMD and Mr J to help close this gap between church leaders and Generation Z, who are currently 11 to 26-year-olds. As a group, they travelled to 7 different sites and spoke about 3 important areas: social media, school, and the church, in total reaching out to around 300 youth leaders and generating 750 views on their YouTube content. They have received some great feedback from churches, and with the report having been published with Barna Group, Alpha stands out in church communities for its expertise within the Youth context and its invaluable contact with youth leaders.
Eastern Europe spans more than 20 countries, varying from National Alpha Offices well experienced with Alpha, to smaller countries just beginning their Alpha journeys. We have seen a great enthusiasm with the leaders here, who meet monthly to encourage, strengthen, and pray for each other.
TMC launch in Latvia
An exciting development for Alpha Latvia this year was the launch of The Marriage Course, launched during an online conference which has since gathered over 300 views. The conference included talks such as “The Art of Communication” from a well-known Baptist pastor and his wife, and “Conflict Resolution” from a couple who are Christian marriage counselors. The event was so well received that people have promoted the course on National Radio, and churches are running courses across the country.
The Middle East and North Africa is a diverse region, spanning multiple cultures and languages, and this year we were so pleased to celebrate 20 years of Alpha in Arabic! With a focus on product contextualisation, we also completed the translation of the Alpha Film Series into Kurdish, Dari and Hebrew, which will be a valued resource. With the Middle East work blending into Europe, work has begun in the MBB (Majority Background Believers) and Orthodox communities. Here are a few of our highlights…
Celebrating Alpha Egypt’s 20th Anniversary
In November, Alpha Egypt celebrated 20 years with Alpha and the course being available in Arabic. When churches in Egypt were looking for methods of preaching and discipleship for new generations, the Anglican church began issuing Alpha resources in Arabic, which are now widely available to all denominations in Egypt. Alpha continues to grow and be fruitful alongside the church. The in-person celebration was attended by a large group of Alpha and church leaders and ministers, and it was an excellent opportunity to look back on the significant impact of the course throughout the years.
An increasingly important context within the Middle East has been work with MBBs (Majority Background Believers), and while Alpha has run courses with MBBs in the past, we are working on contextualizing Alpha for Arabic speakers in every community. This would empower not only the churches in MENA, but also the European churches and mission organisations in the West. The vision is part of the big dream: to ensure everyone everywhere in MENA has access to the Gospel in their languages and culture by Easter 2033.
As we continued to readjust after Covid lockdowns, the Nordics and Netherlands invested in creative projects aimed at supporting their local churches. With Alpha’s culture and values playing an integral part in our mission, the Netherlands team started a journey of how to better serve churches to implement good culture and hospitality, forming once again their communities. Here are a few highlights of their work…
’Mystery Guests’ in the Netherlands
During the time of Covid, Alpha Netherlands started a project called “Opportunities for the Church.” The idea was to discuss with church leaders the Alpha values such as discipleship, invitational culture, prayer, and hospitality. With hospitality being something that they wanted to improve, last year a team member proposed the idea of sending someone unannounced, not involved in church life, to visit a church and “rate” their level of hospitality. The project name “Mystery Guest” evolved and since starting several months ago, 75 churches opted into the project and have been visited.
Once the churches had been visited, they collated the data and rewarded the ‘most hospitable’ church in-person, collaborating with one of the biggest Christian newspapers and radio stations to release the results.
Afterwards, the church leaders involved were keen to learn together how to improve hospitality within the church, and the project was seen as incredibly insightful and fruitful.
In 2022, there was an inspiring collaboration between church leaders in the Nordic countries and Germany, based around the Lutheran context. The idea was to meet online to encourage each other around building an invitational church culture and focusing on reaching the “next generation”. Priests, Vicars and Bishops were involved in looking at how to develop the Lutheran context, and one of Alpha Sweden’s Hub churches, Romelanda Parish Church, played a big role in the sub-region. Romelanda church, north of Gothenburg, was one of the first Hub churches that started running team trainings for Alpha. Their influence is wide, reaching across several denominations, and Alpha Sweden have seen the positive impact of Hub churches, notably with the increase of Alpha courses being run in the country.
This year was an exciting year for South West Europe, as over 1,000 churches opened their doors to run Alpha. Both churches and National Alpha Offices (NAOs) gathered face-to-face for inspiring and exciting events throughout the year – even Pope Francis joined us in Italy over the Summer!
The Alpha Ireland Conference, AIC22: Multiply, took place in St Catherine’s Church, Dublin, in September. Over 200 guests participated in their first major in-person gathering since COVID restrictions were lifted. The day was focused on “Multiply” – how we as Christians can better go and live out Christ’s Great Commission.
The main talks were delivered by Hub Church leaders in Ireland and looked at the wider church’s big questions: How to Envision a Church for Mission, building a Culture of Prayer, and Serving the Wider Community with the Alpha suite of resources. The inimitable Dez Johnston also led a dynamic Alpha Youth panel. The keynote was a challenging but brilliant input from Franciscan Friar of the Renewal, Fr Columba Jordan, who encouraged the audience to take risks as they sought to make Jesus’ Last Command our first priority. It was a powerful day that laid the foundations for moving forward in Ireland as they seek to invite 1 million Irish people to come closer to Christ through Alpha in the coming decade.
Alpha Youth Camp meets Pope Francis
Out of a desire to raise a new generation of leaders in the church – leaders who would share the gospel with their friends and invite them to try Alpha – Alpha Italy and partners ran an Alpha Youth Camp in August. The Alpha Camp, hosted in Europe, was free to attend, thanks to the support received from fundraising and generous donors.
A highlight for many participants was meeting Pope Francis. One camp guest said it was “an extraordinary, spirit-led and moving experience for us all.” The event also had a significant impact on the local and international press. The Alpha Youth Camp saw partnerships develop, and unity grew across Dioceses and National Alpha Offices. Most importantly, we saw the transformation of many young lives and increased enthusiasm and confidence to run Alpha within their local churches. It highlighted the importance of investing in our young people and reaching the next generation with the Good News of Jesus.