A message from the Executive Director
2023 was EMENA’s ‘launchpad’ as we embarked on Alpha’s new 10-year vision: “Alpha for everyone” by 2033.
Nicky & Pippa Gumbel launched the vision at the Garden Tomb, Jerusalem, on a beautiful Easter Sunday in April. Few would have imagined how only months later the year would end in military conflict. Despite not just one but three wars – in Ukraine, Yemen and Gaza – the gospel is still advancing through Alpha. The Great Commission, to take Jesus to everyone, doesn’t stop, and we see these ‘shakings’ leading to a greater harvest. In 2023, the church in its many forms was at work, bravely and prayerfully, using Alpha and The Marriage Courses in 67 countries across Europe and the Middle East, from Ireland to Israel; Iceland to Iraq.
We saw growth of 50,000 (24%) to 251,000 participants in this first year of the vision, delivered by nearly 6,000 churches and over 1,000 organisations. Our next staging post is to double over the next 5 years to see 500,000 people doing Alpha. We are excited to have seen 45% growth in participants in the Catholic context (now 33% of all courses), enabled by investment in church-facing leadership staff (SCRBs). We believe this will continue to grow and our long-term aim is for half of our courses to be in the Catholic context.
Youth Alpha is growing – up to 39% of all courses, from 36% in 2022. With the launch of the new Alpha Youth Series in the coming year we want to go younger, and help the church reach ‘Gen Alpha’, so by 2027 we are planning for 50% of our courses to be Alpha Youth, with every country having a paid Youth lead equipping the next generation.
Read on to find out where and how this acceleration happened in 2023, made possible by your generous ongoing prayer, provision and support.
In 2023, 39% of Alpha courses in EMENA were Youth (36% in 2022), and it has been hugely encouraging to see the growth of Alpha Youth across the region. We believe this will grow rapidly towards our target of 50% Youth courses as we launch and roll out the Alpha Youth Series 3.0 (AYS 3.0) in the coming years.
World Youth Day 2023
We were so excited to be part of World Youth Day (WYD) in August, which took place in Lisbon, Portugal. WYD is a Global event hosted by the Pope every 3 years, which gathers over a million young people and youth leaders as an “opportunity to personally experience the universality of the Catholic Church.”
As a group of 20 European staff and volunteers, we represented Alpha with a stall in the vocational square, which allowed us to distribute Alpha booklets (in several languages) and have great conversations with hundreds of young people and leaders. Thanks to generous donors, including our own National Alpha Offices, we also distributed large quantities of fun Alpha merchandise including hats, bracelets, beach balls and frisbees, to increase brand awareness. To connect people to their local Alpha offices, we provided a QR code with the relevant NAO website, and throughout the week 1,689 people filled out the form to ‘find out more’ about Alpha!
Thanks to a local Catholic ‘Hub’ church in Lisbon, we were also able to host ‘Experience Alpha’ sessions, which gave key leaders and youth groups a taste of what a typical session looks like. This was a great opportunity to have more in-depth conversations and answer questions.
We are hugely encouraged by the opportunities that WYD created for Alpha and are hoping to maximise the impact of these in 2024, particularly with the new Alpha Youth Series 3.0 just around the corner!
Alpha Youth Series 3.0
The EMENA region has played a pivotal role in the preparation for the upcoming Alpha Youth Series 3.0 (AYS), actively engaging in various aspects of the production. Dez Johnston, EMENA’s Alpha Youth Director, has been working closely with members of the regional team and Youth leads in our National Offices, ensuring that the product will meet the needs of our region and reach as many young people in Europe & MENA as possible. Contributions include scriptwriting, story provision, marketing development, and consultations on both style and content. Notably, the first press of the record button took place at World Youth Day, reflecting the region’s commitment and importance to creating a diverse and impactful product that will see millions of lives changed!
Middle East & North Africa
Welcoming church leaders to HTB & Alpha
NAO Conference Highlights
Alpha Italy’s first ever National conference in Rimini was a sell-out in September, with 300 participants signed up and a waiting list for next year!
The conference, which included worship from a young and diverse group of under 18s, was a highlight for the team and, with the younger generation being the focus of the event, it was amazing to see 17-year-old Sofia as one of the key speakers.
It was an inspiring day, showcasing Alpha’s transformative power in Italian churches, through great stories and testimonies, and displaying the beauty of unity across denominations.
In April, Alpha Poland facilitated an Alpha conference hosted by Archbishop Grzegorz Ryś, from the Diocese of Łódź.
Nearly 300 people attended the event, and a highlight was Archbishop Grzegorz Ryś’ interview with Nicky Gumbel, speaking on the importance of parishes having a missionary mindset, as well as a powerful testimony from Fr. James Mallon from Divine Renovation.
Twice a year, Alpha Netherlands host their annual Training & Inspiration Day, which gathers influential church pastors and Alpha leaders to worship and pray together, as well as attend seminars that re-envision them as they lead Alpha in the local church and community. Over 600 guests attended the last conference in September, and work is underway for the next one in March 2024.
To kick-off ‘Vision 2033’, Alpha Germany hosted an inspiring event in March.
Over 100 Alpha friends travelled from all over Germany to be at the event and experience a time of praise, worship, and encouragement. By the end, all were invited to become part of ‘Vision 2033’, for everyone, everywhere, to have the opportunity to explore faith through Alpha by 2033.
Watch the highlights here.
Alpha Sweden held their first regional conference in October, which was well attended and covered various topics including ‘planting missional communities into socio-economically exposed areas with Alpha’.
Alpha’s 2033 Vision, for everyone, everywhere, to have the opportunity to explore faith through Alpha by 2033 was also shared, and Emma Bergkvist, Sweden’s new Alpha Youth Director, spoke about reaching Gen Z, emphasising the importance of connecting with the next generation as part of this vision.
The Marriage Course continues to be a great resource alongside Alpha, and in October, Alpha Romania ran a Marriage Course conference.
On the first night, 300 church leaders gathered to worship, pray and be encouraged, and the following day the conference continued with amazing enthusiasm. Nicky and Sila Lee, authors of The Marriage Book, were also there to share, and the event proved to be a great success. We pray for the lasting impact that TMC will continue to provide across the region.
NAO Strategy and Leadership Development
Building on the success of the Alpha Global Emerging Leaders Cohort, a 2-year leadership development initiative which 10 emerging NAO-based leaders from EMENA participated in, and which celebrated its conclusion in the autumn of 2023, we began to consider how we could best invest in wider NAO leadership development in the coming 2 years, and develop the culture and skills required for Vision 2033. In 2024, we have made the strategic decision to gather in sub-regional cohorts, based on language and context, rather than coming together as the whole region of EMENA. This will allow us to accelerate leadership development, strategic planning, and sharing best practices that meet the needs of our National Offices for the next 5 years, encouraging greater collaboration between countries and maximising resources.
As a first step in establishing this approach, we piloted the approach in the Nordic region with two strategy cohorts, in the MENA region with one online cohort, and also gathered as the EMENA regional team in the Netherlands in September this year for 3 days of strategic planning and leadership development. This allowed us to work together to ensure a clear strategy heading into the new year, but also to test and develop a robust structure for the upcoming sub-regional cohorts which will be rolled out in 2024 for the Eastern Europe, South-West Europe and DACH sub-regions.
We are excited to see the fruits of further cohorts scheduled over the next 2 years.
Includes all regional team costs and NAO grants, plus World Youth Day and Middle East & North Africa specified donations.