Grannie's Alpha

Roger Johnson

 Grannie’s is a small but quaint Tea Room and Gift Shop in the south Nottinghamshire former mining town of Cotgrave. Opened three years ago by Louise, a committed Christian from St. Nic’s in the centre of Nottingham, after much prayer and the desire to serve God in the community, Grannie’s has attracted a regular clientele from the locality and beyond. It’s one of those Tea Rooms you want to keep going back to. The manageress, Elizabeth (also an Anglican), not only organised the food but also attended the course.

Andy Fyall, the Methodist minister of Cotgrave, and I were praying about follow-up to the Alpha course which we had just completed at the Cotgrave Methodist Church and God urged us to consider holding a new Alpha course at Grannie’s. A phone call to Louise revealed a long-standing desire for her Tea Room to be used in this way and we eagerly set about the task of preparing for the course starting on 9 January 2003. Much prayer and promotion was invested in the course and finally the big day approached.

January 9 proved to be far too close to Christmas to attract large numbers and a small group of half a dozen met for an introductory meeting, trusting God would reward our faith by increasing the numbers the following week. Our prayers were answered with a turn out of 18 people, all of whom have continued to attend ever since.

Andy and I shared the leadership by using talks enhanced by Powerpoint presentations. We were greatly assisted by Andy’s mum-in-law and dad-in-law, Louise, and my wife, Margaret serving at tables (very scriptural!). With the screen nestled into the far end of the Tea Room and people seated around tables in groups of 6 or 7, we started each evening at 7:30pm with a three course home-made meal cooked in the Tea Room itself. The meal was followed by the talk with a short time of worship being introduced during week five. We then split into discussion groups which finished at 9:30pm.

Two close Christian friends of mine generously offered us the use of their home, Colston Bassett House, for the Away Day. Most of the attendees were able to join us in this idyllic setting overlooking rolling fields for what proved to be a most memorable and Spirit-filled day. We concluded with a time of ministry which left a lasting impression on many of the group. The laying-on of hands was offered in a relaxed and sensitive manner and many responded to this.

The final evening was reserved for the talk on healing, again with the offer of the laying-on of hands. God’s power was strongly in evidence and many left in tears, partly because of the sadness at having to finish and partly at the way in which God had touched their lives. The letters of gratitude we received were testimony to the work which the Spirit of God had performed.

We were greatly encouraged that people came not only from Cotgrave but from surrounding areas too. There was a mix of ages from early twenties to late sixties and both sexes. Most, though not all, were church goers (Methodist, Anglican and Pentecostal) but the response forms which were completed at the end of the course showed an enormous appreciation for the course and sensitive ministry along with a significant deepening of faith and Christian experience. Shortly after the course the two youngest attendees announced their engagement – on Mothering Sunday!

On May 1 we began follow up with a nine week course - ‘A Life Worth Living’ – Nicky Gumbel’s study on Philippians – same time, same place, same Living Lord who deserves all the praise and glory.

Roger Johnson
Headline Summer 2003 p19