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Paul "Nicky" Gumbel (1955-) is an ordained Anglican priest, vicar and
author. He is the son of Walter Gumbel, a German Jew from Stuttgart whose
licence to practise law in that city was withdrawn in one of the early Nazi
purges. Walter Gumbel emigrated to Britain and became a successful barrister.
Gumbel's mother, Muriel, served on the Greater London Council for many years
between 1967 and 1986 and was Mayor of the Royal Borough of Kensington and
He was educated at Eton College and Trinity College, Cambridge.
After graduating in law in 1976, he followed in his father's footsteps and
became a practising barrister. Meanwhile, he became a regular worshipper at Holy
Trinity Brompton Church, Knightsbridge. In 1982, he announced his decision to
leave the bar to train for ordination in the Church of England. In 1983, he
began theological studies at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford from where he graduated with
an honours degree in theology. After some difficulty in finding a curacy, he
joined the staff of his "home" church of Holy Trinity Brompton in London as a
curate in 1986. He was ordained priest in 1987.
In 1990, Gumbel took over the
running of the Alpha Course that had been running there since 1977. The course
was transformed under his leadership from being one designed for new Christians
to one primarily for those outside the church who would not consider themselves
He is the author of a number of books related to the Alpha
- Questions of Life, which has sold over 1,000,000 copies
and voted "Christian Book of the Year" in 1994
- Why Jesus
- Searching Issues (2001)
- Telling Others
- A Life Worth Living
- Challenging Lifestyle
- Heart of Revival
- 30 Days.
- Gumbel was officially installed as vicar of Holy Trinity Brompton Church in
September 2005 after the Reverend Prebendary Sandy Millar retired from
stipendiary ministry and moved on to be an assistant bishop in the Diocese of
London based at St Mark's Tollington Park in North London.
- In 2007, Gumbel
was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Gloucestershire (whose
Chancellor is a former Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey) as recognition of
his broad contribution to the wider church via Alpha.
- 1994 Time Magazine, "Laughing for the Lord":
"It's Sunday evening in
London's fashionable Knightsbridge neighborhood. Though pathetically tiny
flocks of Londoners attend many Anglican services, Holy Trinity Brompton has
a standing-room-only turnout of 1500. After the usual Scripture readings,
prayers and singing, the chairs are cleared away. Curate Nicky Gumbel prays
that the Holy Spirit will come upon the congregation. Soon a woman begins
laughing. Others gradually join her with hearty belly laughs. A young
worshipper falls to the floor, hands twitching. Another falls, then another
and another. Within half an hour there are bodies everywhere as supplicants
sob, shake, roar like lions, and strangest of all laugh uncontrollably. This
frenzied display has become known as the 'laughing revival' or 'Toronto
Blessing'. After first appearing at Holy Trinity only last May, laughing
revivals have been reported in Anglican parishes from Manchester to York to
Brighton. At London's Holy Trinity, schoolteacher Denise Williams says she
'came here a little skeptical' but soon was caught up in the fervor. 'There
was a lovely feeling of warmth and peace.' Lines outside Holy Trinity now
start forming an hour and a half before services."
- Gumbel says that the purpose of the Holy
Spirit weekends is to expect all kinds of strange manifestations and bodily
“Sometimes, when people are filled, they shake like a leaf in
the wind. Others find themselves breathing deeply as if almost physically
breathing in the Spirit. ... Physical heat sometimes accompanies the filling
of the Spirit and people experience it in their hands or some other part of
their bodies. One person described a feeling of ‘glowing all over’. Another
said she experienced ‘liquid heat’. Still another described ‘burning in my
arms when I was not hot’.”
The Christian Research Network Journal,
Spring 1998, pg. 21.
- The illusion that we can now have the physical aspects of God’s perfect
future Kingdom is expressed in this way by Gumbel, “The Kingdom is both
‘now’ and ‘not yet.’”22 Gumbel also says that the age to come can be
realized in principle in this age. He goes on to affirm:
“We live between
the times, when the age to come has broken into history. The old age goes
on, but the powers of the new era have erupted into this age. ... healing is
one of the signs of the Kingdom which was inaugurated by Jesus Christ and
continues to this day. Hence we should expect God to continue to heal
miraculously today as part of His Kingdom activity.”23
Todd Dean Hunter (1956-) is an American author, church
planter, and bishop in the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). The senior
pastor of an Anglican church in Costa Mesa, California, Hunter serves as an
assistant bishop in office of Archbishop Robert Duncan with special assignment
for overseeing church planting. Prior to being received into Anglicanism in
2009, Hunter was a leader in the charismatic Vineyard movement. He has also been
affiliated with a number of evangelical movements and organizations during his
career, including the Jesus Movement, Calvary Chapel, and Alpha.
Hunter was converted to Christianity in 1976 as part of the Jesus Movement.
Hunter was hired by John Wimber in 1987 as a pastor at Anaheim Vineyard
Christian Fellowship and to help start the Association of Vineyard Churches. In
1991, Hunter moved to Virginia Beach, to oversee Vineyard churches in the
Southeast. While there, he completed an M.A. in Biblical studies at Regent
University. He returned to Southern California in 1994 as national coordinator
of the Vineyard, and after Wimber's death in 1997, served for four years as
president of the Vineyard. Hunter continued to remain interested in church
planting, and from 2001 to 2004, he worked with Allelon, a church-planter
From 2004 to 2008, Hunter was executive director of Alpha USA, the U.S.-based
affiliate of the Alpha course, developed by Anglican vicar Nicky Gumbel in
London. He also completed a D.Min.
in Leadership in the
from George Fox Evangelical Seminary, and taught as an adjunct at
Fuller Theological Seminary, Western
Seminary, Vanguard University, and Wheaton College.
- From Todd Hunter of Alpha—USA (in 2005):
You’ve probably heard me
articulate my vision to connect evangelism and spiritual formation into a
seamless whole. I often state it like this: 'I want to help people become
the cooperative friends of Jesus seeking to live lives of constant creative
goodness through the power of the Holy Spirit for the sake of the world.'
This requires what my friend Richard Foster
is calling "The With-God Life." Come to the International Renovare
Conference and you will hear Richard,
Dallas Willard, and others [Todd Hunter] discuss The With-God Life.
These are my favorite teachers I personally go anywhere, anytime to interact
- Brian McLaren calls Todd Hunter his
- Christianity Today, April 2, 2008: CEO of Alpha USA, Tod
Hunter, left Alpha in 2008 to launch Society for Kingdom Living
Hunter will begin this ministry by teaching and consulting on Three Is
Enough Groups. These groups are designed to show people how to undo
un-Christian faith by showing them that heaven is not the goal of
Christianity - it is simply the destination. Being the servant - otherly
people of God - is the goal. ... Three Is Enough Groups will go on the
Journey Inward of spiritual transformation and the Journey Outward of
- Todd Hunter in
Christianity Beyond Belief (2010) p.
13: Later, people like Richard Foster,
Eugene Peterson and Elizabeth O'Connor
taught me that there is an indispensable and beautiful inner journey in
- Giving Church Another Chance: Finding New Meaning in Spiritual
Practices (2010) Foreword by Scot
McKnight. Endorsed by
Dan Kimball, Ed Stetzer, Jim
- Christianity Beyond Belief: Following Jesus for the Sake of Others
(2010) Foreword by Eugene H. Peterson. Acknowledgements to
and N. T. Wright. Endorsed by
Morgenthaler, Brian McLaren,
and Nicky Gumbel.
- The Accidental Anglican: The Surprising Appeal of the Liturgical
Church (2010) Endorsed by Nicky Gumbel.
- Our Favorite Sins: The Sins We Commit and How You Can Quit
(2012) Foreword by Dallas Willard.
Endorsed by John Ortberg,
Bill Hybels, Richard Mouw [president
Phyllis Tickle and
The Alpha Course started in 1978 as a small group of seekers in the home of
Charles Marnham, a curate (associate pastor) of Holy Trinity Church, London,
England. Over the course of 14 years, the leaders of the course surveyed the
participants to discover how the course might be improved. Possibly the greatest
influence has been the ministry of John Wimber, who visited Holy Trinity
Brompton a number of times during the 1980s and 1990s. By the winter of
1992, the Alpha Course had emerged into its present-day format, one that
features 5 key components:
- Simple, friendly meals
- Seeker sensitive worship presentations
- Straight-forward talk on basic aspects of the Christian faith
- Small group discussions
- A weekend retreat
This 15-session, 10-week course was attracting 600 new people a year to
Holy Trinity Church,
The Alpha Course has the following components:
- Relational ministry (small groups)
- Experiential ministry (the weekend retreat)
- Sacramental Ministry (a Last Supper-like meal)
- Cell and Celebration (pulpit ministry connected to group discussion)
- Socratic style teaching (not "sage on the stage" but "guide beside")
the end of 1994, 750 congregations were conducting an Alpha Course. These
congregations asked Holy Trinity to publish a curriculum for the course and a
notebook for the guests. Nicky Gumbel, formerly an attorney, wrote the
manuscript for Questions of Life and The Alpha Manual after consulting 44
theologians from 40 different Christian traditions.
The first Alpha
Conference in the United States was hosted in the fall of 1995.
Alpha North America (ANA) was formed in April of 1997.
Early on, the team from Alpha North America was
coached by the leaders of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and the
faculty of Fuller Theological Seminary.
tactics of Alpha North America has been to seek leaders who have experienced a life-changing as a
result of an Alpha Course. As one board member of ANA,
Bob Buford, puts it, ANA should find
people who have been "successful but who now are looking for significance".
- Questions of Life (2003)
- Alpha Course Manual (2005)
- Why Jesus - an evangelistic tract akin to the Four Spiritual
The Alpha Course is endorsed by Bob Buford,
Edmund Gibbs [Professor of World Mission,
Fuller Institute of Theology],
Tony Campolo, Bill Hybels,
Robert Harold Schuller, C. Peter
Wagner, Rick Warren, John Wimber.
The Spectator 15 December 2012: In 1996, Cardinal
[Basil] Hume invited a team from
HTB [Holy Trinity Brompton, an Anglican church in London] to Westminster
Cathedral so he could discover whether it [the Alpha Course] was compatible
with Catholicism. ‘That really took us by surprise,’ Gumbel told me over tea
in his vicarage last week. ‘It wasn’t just that they were so enthusiastic —
it was that we hardly had to change anything when we developed Alpha for
Awakening to God, by Executive Director of Alpha USA, has
foreword by Bill Hybels and is endorsed
by Ken Blanchard.
- In 2015, the Alpha website described the project as running in 169
countries and 112 languages, with over 24 million people having taken the
- The Alpha course has been criticised for a charismatic emphasis. A
particular problem for non-charismatic evangelicals is what is seen as
Gumbel's emphasis upon the person and work of the Holy Spirit As a result,
some churches have chosen to teach a different view of the Holy Spirit,
although this is discouraged in Gumbel's book How to Run the Alpha
- More conservative critics have complained that the course does not
adequately define sin and therefore does not properly explain the reason for
Jesus's death and resurrection
Theological Seminary, Asbury Theological Seminary, and Gordon-Conwell
Theological Seminary are all hosting Alpha Conferences for their students and
- There are three major streams of Christianity: Evangelical,
Charistmatic/Pentecostal, and Catholic/Lithurgical. The Alpha Course has become
a major meeting place for these three streams. The leadership of Alpha North
America is called to continue the work of denominational reconciliation so the
One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic church can unite to fulfill the Great
Commission and further the Kingdom.
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