Who would have thought that something we used in the early days of our church plant would be just the thing that would serve us and our community so well 30 years later during this global pandemic!

Alpha is a series of sessions exploring the Christian faith, typically run over eleven weeks. Each talk looks at a different question around faith and is designed to create conversation. Alpha is run all around the world, in many denominations, and everyone is welcome. If you aren’t familiar with Alpha, this is a great place to start.

Running Alpha for so many years has shaped the culture of River Heights Vineyard (RHV) in wonderful ways! It has helped us to cultivate a culture of invitation, hospitality, fun, listening, and welcoming the presence of the Holy Spirit.

Until March we had done every Alpha in-person, and each evening included a meal, a video, and conversations in small groups. Guests would often return to the next Alpha with a friend, and many would go on to become leaders and helpers with future Alphas. Some of our best leaders at RHV have come through the Alpha pipeline.

In March when everything went virtual, we wondered if Alpha could work online …It DOES! We just finished our second Alpha Online – and it works wonderfully!

People are still being drawn together by God’s Spirit, friendships are still being formed, and lives are still being changed as people experience the love of Jesus in community.

Two people who were new to Alpha in March returned to serve on the team for the second online course and each invited friends.

Here’s what one of those friends wrote about her experience:

“I just want to thank you for such an amazing 11 weeks. I had no idea what to expect when I started this journey, but Alpha with all of you has become the highlight of my week, and I will miss it. Having a spiritual family is something I have not had in a long time, and I feel that is what we created here. I appreciate all of you for your honesty, humor, and unconditional acceptance. I feel truly blessed and hope to see you all again soon.”

God is not surprised by what is happening in our nation and world today, the Holy Spirit is on the move, and we are still called to the same mission – to help people discover and develop a relationship with Jesus. 

The Alpha USA staff offers support, training, and excellent materials to make Alpha Online possible at no cost to churches.

Alpha began at Holy Trinity Brompton (HTB) in London in 1977. In 1990 Nicky Gumbel took the leadership of Alpha. There is a wonderful Vineyard connection in the early days of Alpha. John Wimber did a conference at HTB where Nicky had a powerful encounter with the Holy Spirit that shaped his ministry. He shares some of that experience in this podcast.

Sue Marsden

Founding Co-pastor
River Heights Vineyard


About Sue Marsden

Sue grew up in Excelsior, MN and went to college at the University of Minnesota. There, she began to experience what it meant to be a follower of Jesus. She read through the book of Acts and was gripped by the stories of the church of Jesus moving forward. Loving Jesus and His church have marked her life ever since. She and Jon were married in 1975 and in 1990 they had the privilege of being part of a team that started River Heights Vineyard. In 2015 they passed the senior leadership on to Peter Benedict and still make River Heights their church home. Sue and Jon love family times with their six children, their spouses, and their twelve grandchildren. They also lead the Vineyard Central Mexico Partnership.


Learn more about Alpha here!

Learn more about Alpha’s online training events here!