Progressive Episcopalians have begun test-marketing a revamped version of the popular Alpha course that organizers say can harness publicity over an openly gay bishop to bring people into the church. Some 15 Episcopal congregations across the country were the first to use the “via media” (middle way) eight-week curriculum in February.
The course was developed at All Saints Church in Pasadena, California, a flagship in the progressive movement. The course is structured on the model of the Alpha program, which caught on in the 1970s at Anglican churches in England. Alpha is a favorite of evangelicals and has been presented in some 25,000 Catholic and Protestant churches in 137 countries. (See ABCs of faith: Beginning with Alpha.)