Global Briefs

Edited by John Martin

Alpha, which has reached 29 million people in 170 countries, has been revamped for the digital age. Alpha began in 1977 as a 10-week basic Christianity course at Holy Trinity Brompton (HTB) in London’s West End. When the Rev. Nicky Gumbel took over its development in 1991 there were just four courses running. He refined it and it began to be taken up beyond HTB.

The revamped Alpha takes the form of documentary-style films replacing straight-to-camera talks. The Alpha film series, funded by donations from across the world, is presented by Church of England clergyman Toby Flint and CBBC TV presenter Gemma Hunt. In all, 16 films deal with such topics as Jesus’ identity, how people can have faith, and the meaning of prayer. There are stories and interviews from around the world, including Canada, Hong Kong, and Chile.

Contributors include adventurer Bear Grylls, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna, and Jose Henriquez Gonzalez, one of 33 miners trapped for 69 days at the San Jose mine in Chile.

There are plans to release versions in Spanish, Arabic, Mandarin, and Hindi layer this year. The course has become more ecumenical, being hosted in Anglican, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Baptist, Pentecostal, Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and new British churches.

Says Tricia Neill, president of Alpha International: “The new Alpha Film Series has the potential to reach millions worldwide with the message of God’s transforming love and grace.”

Parliament vs. Islamic State: British MPs have voted unanimously to identify Islamic State violence against ethnic and religious minorities in Syria and Iraq as genocide, reports the Thompson Reuters agency. MPs are urging the government to do more to bring the terrorists to justice.

Before this vote the U.K. government has been reluctant to so describe violence perpetrated by Islamic State, claiming it was a matter for an international court. Under the statutes governing the International Criminal Court, it must be asked to act.

The parliamentary motion also called on the British government to ask the U.N. Security Council immediately to give the International Criminal Court jurisdiction over the issue “so that perpetrators can be brought to justice.”

“It is about doing justice and about seeing justice being done,” said MP Fiona Bruce, who moved the motion.

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