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Oakridge Presbyterian and the Pizza Alpha
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1 Timothy 4:12: Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.

For years Oakridge Presbyterian Church has been providing a pizza lunch on Thursdays for seventh and eighth grade students from Riverside school who wish to attend. Recently, though, the outreach took an interesting and fruitful turn.

“The church was running an Alpha course which finished up in the spring,” says Pastor John Park. “One of the young ladies attending from our church also attends the Thursday pizza lunch with some of her school friends.”

Park was inspired to suggest this young lady run a youth Alpha during those Thursdays. She was quite enthusiastic and the first week of September brought four somewhat skeptical friends to Park so he could explain what Alpha was.

“Our church had participated in the Why campaign and the books that we distributed had a flyer describing Alpha in it, so the friends were all familiar with it.”

For the month of September they provided materials on Alpha to all who attended the pizza lunch with an eye toward starting the Alpha in October. It was Parks idea that the pizza would be provided free to the children who showed up for Alpha, and several church members have graciously agreed to donate the pizza.

“Our first week we had twelve kids and had to ask some of the young adults for help. The second week we had 21, and that caught the attention of the school and parents.”

Being (reasonably) concerned for the safety of the children Park explained to both the school and parents who the church was and what the Alpha course was all about. The church provided information about the Alpha course along with permission forms that parents needed to complete for the children’s continued attendance.

While there are a few kids from Oakridge and other Christian churches most of them are unchurched outside of the pizza lunch. They are talkative, enthusiastic, and willing to share the issues they are facing.

“Youth are open to Christian dialogue, but it’s better to start younger. The High School kids are tougher to attract to the Alpha course.

It’s important to put youth in leadership roles. The youth can be bold and creative, and youth inviting youth is much more attractive. In our case one youth has attracted 22+ children to the course.”

The youth involved this fall are already interested in bringing Alpha to their school when the current course is finished at church. The Alpha Course website has all the material needed to approach the schools, and the schools require two teachers to sponsor it in conjunction with the approval of the principal.

It is Park’s hope that youth pastors in London can get together and work together to get Alpha into the school system. Pastor John Park can be reached at Oakridge Presbyterian Church (519) 471 2290, extension 226.