Anglican Alpha founder praises Catholic evangelisation

Alpha course founder Rev. Nicky Gumbel has said the Catholic Church is leading the way in evangelisation.

Speaking at the Proclaim ‘15 national Catholic evangelisation gathering in Birmingham in England on July 11, Rev. Gumbel said he loves the Catholic Church.

Rev. Gumbel, an Anglican minister from Holy Trinity Brompton, is the pioneer of Alpha, a 15-session introduction to the Christian faith.

Alpha has its roots in the charismatic evangelical movement and is now used – in modified form – by more Catholic churches worldwide than Anglican ones.

Rev. Gumbel had been invited to Proclaim ‘15 to help parishes shift their mentality “from maintenance to mission”.

At the gathering, Rev. Gumbel said the key to his current thinking was Pope Francis’s 2013 apostolic exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium”.

Everyone, not just Catholics, should read the encyclical and put it into practice, Rev. Gumbel said.

“If every Christian in England put Evangelii Gaudium into practice the nation would be transformed,” Rev. Gumbel said, adding that the Church would also be revitalised and transformed.

Friendship was one key to successful evangelisation, he noted.

Another was personal experience of the Holy Spirit.

He said it was important for Church leaders to be close to people outside as well as inside the Church.

“Evangelise according to your gifting, whether your gift is pastoring or something else. Involve everyone,” he said, advocating the “small” approach.

“I love the small group. I love smelling of the sheep, as the Pope would say.”

Small teaching inputs about Jesus and a warm welcome were the keys to reaching the unchurched and lapsed.

At Proclaim ‘15, Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminister launched plans to inspire 5000 “missionary parishes” in England and Wales.

Parishes are also to be encouraged to establish their own evangelisation teams.

But before Proclaim ‘15, Cardinal Nichols stressed that these teams should avoid proselytising.

“Door-stepping, cold calling, things that minimalise the quality of human relationship is not what we do,” he said.


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