Catholic Vancouver Jan. 25, 2018

Alpha Canada moves to new HQ

By Agnieszka Ruck

Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB, shares how Alpha's evangelization efforts are helping Catholics. He was blessing their new offices Jan. 17. (Photos by Agnieszka Krawczynski / The B.C. Catholic)

NEW WESTMINSTER—Evangelism has a new look but the same message for Alpha Canada this year.

The national Christian organization has just moved its headquarters to a central location in New Westminster, amid wedding shops, cafes, and historic buildings in B.C.’s oldest city.

Moving “into the birthplace of B.C. and into a building that is 130 years old” was “part of God’s will,” said director Shaila Visser.

Alpha, founded in the 1970s, runs programs about Christianity for people who don’t know God or go to church. Their many video series encourage people to ask deep questions and invite the Holy Spirit into their lives.

It’s a tool many Christian churches can rely on today, said Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB, who with two other Christian pastors showed their support for Alpha’s future endeavours by blessing the office and staff Jan. 17.

Alpha Canada workers pray as their new offices are blessed.

Although Alpha is not a Catholic program, it’s had the support of the Archdiocese of Vancouver for 20 years. Alpha “is a great blessing. It’s increasingly necessary,” said Archbishop Miller. 

“Traditionally, Catholics have had a focus on catechesis, which is teaching about the faith and so on, assuming that evangelization had already taken place in the family,” he said.

“Now we know that that is probably no longer widely true. Therefore, the need to go back to a first evangelization should be a necessary part of Catholic life.”

He said all Grade 9 classrooms and at least a dozen parishes in his jurisdiction are currently running Alpha programs. Addressing complaints sometimes made about Alpha’s shortcomings, the Archbishop said, “Sometimes people say (Alpha) doesn’t say this, it doesn’t say that.’ We have to emphasize: this is a beginning, for people who haven’t gone (to church).”

Pastors David Koop of Coastal Church and Darrell Johnson, a professor at Regent College, agreed that Alpha is an evangelization aid all Christians can find helpful.

Visser is enthusiastic about getting to work in the new space and evangelizing Canadians starting with those outside the office doors on the streets of New Westminster. “I feel God has a special calling for us in New West.”

Alpha’s national offices, with 27 employees, were previously in Richmond, but the 130-year-old “new” location was chosen as more central and accessible.