Diocese of Portsmouth

    Alpha Course at Fratton Park

    24 July 2003

    FRATTON PARK is to host a city-wide launch of new Alpha courses this autumn.

    More than 300 guests will pack into Portsmouth Football Club’s Victory Suite for an Alpha supper that aims to introduce people who don’t go to church to the Christian faith.

    Ten churches of all denominations are working together to host the event at 7.30pm on September 18, which will be the largest ever Alpha supper in Portsmouth. It will also be the first ever Alpha event held in a football ground.

    Pompey defender Linvoy Primus - the Nationwide fans’ player of the year for division one for the 2002-03 championship-winning season - hopes to be there to talk about his own Christian faith.

    Pompey’s chaplain, the Rev Andy Rimmer, will host the event and Sunday Telegraph picture editor Nigel Skelsey - a fervent West Ham fan - will speak on “Christianity: Boring, Untrue and Irrelevant?” The food will be provided by Pompey FC’s own caterers.
    Guests will be encouraged to sign up for Alpha courses to be held over the autumn at each of the 10 churches involved - or even an Alpha course to be held at Fratton Park itself.

    More than 1.5 million people in Britain have taken the 15-session course, which helps them find out more about Christianity in a relaxed environment that includes a shared meal each week. It is running in more than 25,000 churches in 134 countries worldwide.
    A reality-style ITV programme hosted by Sir David Frost even followed one group of 10 enquirers at Holy Trinity, Brompton, through the course.

    The Rev Andy Rimmer, who is also vicar at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Crookhorn, said: “Each of the churches involved usually has an Alpha supper at this time of the year anyway, so we thought it would be great idea to get together.  And what could be better than meeting up at Fratton Park as they kick off their first season in the Premiership?

    “People often feel a bit intimidated about coming into church, but this is a neutral venue that thousands of people are using to going to. It should be a fantastic occasion.”

    The 10 churches organising the event include St Simon’s and St Jude’s in Southsea, Langstone Church, the Kings Church, Oasis and Tangier Road Baptist. Others, such as St Swithun’s RC Church in Southsea, have already booked tickets. Christians from other churches - whether they run Alpha courses or not - are welcome to bring guests along.

    Each ticket for the event will cost £10. Churches are being encouraged to pay for blocks of tickets so they can give them to guests for free.

    Anyone interested should contact Gail Chipperfield at St Simon’s parish office on 023-9282 9440 or office(at)stsimons-southsea.org.uk

    Many other churches in south-east Hampshire and the Isle of Wight will also launch Alpha courses in September to tie in with a nationwide advertising campaign. For a full list of participating churches, see: www.alphacourse.org