The Bishop of Durham opened the Alpha Vision Day in Sheffield yesterday attended by 700 church leaders from all over England.
The Rt Rev'd Justin Welby spoke of the opportunities for the church at this time when the country has lost faith in materialism. He spoke warmly of the Alpha course and its associated ministries, encouraging churches to put their energies into reaching out into their local communities.
He said, 'We look around and we see family breakdown; we see hopelessness in our urban areas, in many rural areas; we see debt on an incredible scale. The Chief Constable of one of our police forces in my diocese said to me a few weeks back, "This is the golden age of the loan shark."
'And God has at this time given a family of tools for the job: Alpha, the Marriage Course, the Money course, God at Work – the whole range of Alpha courses that enable us not only to engage with bringing people to faith in Christ, seeing them filled with the Spirit, transformed inside themselves, but also their lives set right, their communities transformed, our society changed and hope for the world. That is what we have.
'Events like today are for us to capture that vision as we worship and listen to God speaking to us, and then to go out and do it.'
The conference was held at St Thomas Philadelphia church in Sheffield and delegates were welcomed by Mick Woodhead, Vicar of St Thomas Crookes Church.
Speakers included Nicky Gumbel and Ken Costa.