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Alpha Course participants from Mount Ararat Baptist Church in Stafford, Virginia, and Alpha on Quantico gather for worship at “The Weekend” retreat outside of Richmond, Virginia, during the Spring 2016 Alpha Course. The Weekend is a time focusing on relationship development within your groups and connection with the Holy Spirit.

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Alpha Course returns to Quantico in September

25 Aug 2016 | Maj. A.J. Bormann; Director, PAO Marine Corps Base Quantico

Looking to explore the Christian faith or connect with others in your community in a friendly, open and informal environment? The Marine Corps Base Quantico Command Religious Program is rolling out the second iteration of ‘Alpha on Quantico.’ The fall course is scheduled to begin on Tuesday, Sept. 20 in the chapel annex at 6:30 p.m., registration is required, see below for details.

The course

If you have ever pondered what the meaning of life is, Alpha just might be the program to help you find an answer. This curriculum is based on the time-tested Alpha course and is dedicated to reach military service members and their families where they live and work. Introduced to Quantico for the first time earlier this spring, Alpha is seeking to grow and serve the needs of our local community.

Alpha is comprised of 15 sessions held over 11 weeks and is free and open to everyone.

No question is out of bounds, and participants are free to say as much or as little as they wish as they make up their own minds about the teachings of Jesus and the Christian faith. Spirited discussions often ensue on topics ranging from “Who is God?” and “Why am I here?” to “Why is there suffering?” and “Is God a delusion?”

Alpha started in Great Britain, but has grown in popularity over the years and now encompasses programs all over the U.S.A. and many foreign countries. Alpha has reached millions of people over the years and can be run in any number of ways. One thing is for certain, no two Alphas look the same, even in courses run out of the same ministry. Generally speaking though, they all have three key things in common: food, a talk, and good conversation through focused small group discussion.

“The Alpha program has become so popular because it works,” said Command Chaplain Cmdr. Jeff Etheridge, Marine Corps Base Quantico. For example, the program has been used in prisons to help reform inmates and the reduction in re-incarcerations is staggering, amounting to as much as a 70 percent curtailment in an inmate returning to prison.

At Quantico

With Alpha implemented in the MCBQ ministry program, Etheridge hopes to reach young, single Marines as well as families to help make a positive difference in their lives, particularly when it comes to making those difficult choices in life.

Katie Hawkins, director of ministry outreach for Alpha on Base, has been leading Alpha groups over the past decade and says it delights her soul. “It reaches out to wherever anyone is spiritually. I can always picture myself at various stages of my spiritual journey listening to some of the talks or having the opportunity to ask questions. We’ve run it ten times now at our church and once on Quantico, I’ve seen so many people benefit that I can’t even keep track anymore,” she said.

Hawkins continued by professing:

“This spring I witnessed so many amazing things. Two young widows wrestle with the love of God; two agnostics honestly explain why they can’t believe in Jesus Christ as the Savior of the World; a couple struggling with some spiritual teachings they’d embraced that frankly left them with doubts and questions; and an engaged couple where the man grew up with faith and the woman didn’t and they wanted to be in sync. All these and a myriad of other people simply seeking to establish a firm foundation in what they really believe about the important issues in life. I also witnessed friendships being born, older Marines taking an interest in the careers of younger Marines, and just a lot of fun being had by all.”

What to expect

Participants can expect to encounter a friendly and informal environment where you can come and open yourself, no matter what your background or knowledge of Christianity. If you are lead to serve, this is a perfect environment with an abundance of opportunities. If you are just there to listen and gain exposure about the faith and that of others, this is the perfect place for you.

At Alpha on Quantico you will enjoy time with others during the first 15 minutes where dinner is served every session. You will listen to about 30 minutes of either live discussion or video presentation of the weekly topic followed by approximately 45 minutes of small group discussion where relationships truly grow. During this time childcare is provided and volunteers will help serve your needs in a variety of different ways.

The chaplain’s office, partnered with a local community church, are holding an introductory dinner aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico for those who want to learn more about Alpha. The event will be held Sept. 20 at the chapel annex beginning at 6:30 p.m. Dinner and childcare will be provided at no cost and the event is being sponsored by the church.

How to sign up

An RSVP is required and can be done by visiting and clicking on the ‘RSVP’ icon. If childcare is required, please identify this need with ages through the contact form on the ministry website, or email Katie Hawkins at

Etheridge is excited to bring Alpha to Quantico once again and said, “God is really working here.”

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