Holy Trinity Brompton Church
Holy Trinity Brompton with St Paul's, Onslow Square (" HTB") is an Anglican church in Brompton, London, United Kingdom. The church consists of three church buildings, Holy Trinity Brompton St Paul's, Onslow Square (" SPOS") and St Augustine's, Queen's Gate, as well as being the home for Worship Central, St Paul's Theological Centre and The Alpha course. It is where the Alpha course was first developed and is one of the most influential churches in the Evangelical wing of the Church of England. The church buildings accommodate Alpha and other courses, conferences and meetings during the week and ten services each Sunday. With total Sunday service attendance at around 4,000 people and the Alpha course attracting several hundred guests during the week, HTB oversees a diverse range of activities. HTB's aim is for an Alpha course to be accessible to anyone who would like to attend the course, and in this way HTB seeks to spread the teachings of Christianity. Nicky Gumbel, the pioneer of the Alpha course, took over as Vicar from Sandy Millar in July 2005. Nicky Lee was appointed Associate Vicar in July 2007 he had been a curate at HTB for 22 years previously.

Prior to the construction of Holy Trinity Brompton, the present site was a part of the large parish of Kensington which was served only by the nearby St Mary Abbots church. In the early 1820s the area was in the midst of a substantial population increase so a decision was taken to purchase land and construct a new church. The church was a Commissioners' church, receiving a grant from the Church Building Commission towards its cost. The full cost of the church was £10,407 (£790,000 as of 2011), towards which the Commission paid £7,407. The architect was Thomas Leverton Donaldson. Holy Trinity is a Grade II listed building. After three years of construction the Holy Trinity Brompton church was consecrated on 6 June 1829. The same building stands today, although having been considerably modified. At some point a portion of HTB's land was sold to the Roman Catholic Church in order for them to build the London Oratory. This created a long driveway from Brompton road at the end of which HTB manages to gain relative tranquillity. The most recent major modification was during the 1980s when the crypt was rebuilt to provide meeting rooms and the space for the bookshop. Also during this time the pews were removed and replaced with chairs to allow greater flexibility in seating arrangements, which became imperative as Alpha grew. The substantial growth of the Alpha course in the last 18 years has seen this course become the main focus of HTB, with its recent history reflecting this. The St Paul's church in Onslow Square was opened in 1860. In the late 1970s, the parish of Holy Trinity Brompton merged with the neighbouring parish of St Paul's Onslow Square. St Paul's was declared redundant. An attempt by the diocese to sell the building for private redevelopment was thwarted in the early 1980s when local residents joined with churchgoers to save the church. In the late 1980s, the Parochial Church Council requested that the redundancy be overturned which allowed curate Nicky Lee and his wife Sila to plant a congregation there as well as undertake some building structural maintenance work. At its peak in the 1990s, this congregation had grown to several hundred. In 1997, the congregation at St Paul's divided into three, with some going with curate Stuart Lees to plant a church in Fulham; others returning to Holy Trinity with Nicky and Sila Lee; and others forming the St Paul's Anglican Fellowship and remaining based at St Paul's with John Peters. This last group left in 2002 to plant into St Mary's, Bryanston Square. During 2007, after plans by HTB to rebuild the 1960s offices were withdrawn following difficulty in getting support from local residents, HTB decided to undertake some renovations and to resume services in the church. St Paul's launched 9 AM and 6 PM services in September 2007 and followed with an 11AM service on January 20, 2008 and a 4PM service on September 28, 2009. In December 2009 the upstairs balcony was recommissioned for worship, having previously been used for administrative offices (the office occupants having moved to HTB's nearby office building purchased in 2008). Services at St Augustine's, Queen's Gate began to be administred from Holy Trinity Brompton following an invitation by the Bishop of Kensington in 2010 where Nicky Gumbel was made Preist-in-charge.

Alpha and HTB
The Alpha course was founded by clergy at HTB who over a period of twenty years kept adapting the programme in accordance with feedback until in the early 1990s the Alpha course started gaining worldwide attention. As Alpha grew it became the main focus for HTB as it sought to support Alpha's spread and growth. Today this involves the production of advertising material and course material such as videos, books and tapes for each Alpha session and leader training material. Alpha is now run as a separate enterprise with separate fundraising and accounting but it remains closely tied to HTB, with most of Alpha's staff being accommodated in HTB's offices. The clergy of HTB also share Alpha duties such as overseeing Alpha conferences and training events in the UK and overseas. Since the mid-1990s the Alpha course programme has remained largely unchanged allowing the energy of the church to develop other initiatives which fit with the Alpha course such as creating courses on marriage preparation, parenting teenagers, bereavement and recovering from divorce as well as publishing new books. HTB itself runs Alpha courses three times a year and with these attracting 300-400 guests during each course they require all of the available space in the church buildings.

Pastoral care
In order to address the problem of how to give pastoral care to such a large congregation as well as provide a means for new people to become a part of the church, HTB uses the Pastorate model. Pastorates consist of 20-50 people who, through meeting at least once a fortnight, can form strong friendships and support each other in care as well as developing individual gifts and ministries. HTB has quite a transient congregation caused in part by its location in London, a city which itself has quite a transient population, that HTB attracts a large student population often only resident in London during their studies, and that the Alpha course brings in a number of people who are either visiting the home of Alpha or have completed the course and then quickly move on to other churches or ministries. In order to reach out to this substantial number of visitors, HTB is somewhat extroverted in welcoming newcomers and providing various means for them to get involved.

HTB conducts ten services each Sunday. The family services include items aimed at children and child participation. The formal services have a more traditional Church of England Liturgy and a regular choir. The informal services centre on a long period of contemporary worship, a long talk, and close in a reflective prayer section that is left to run beyond the end of the service. St Paul's church extends its informal nature to the seating arrangements, most of the congregation sit on carpet while some couches, cushions and bean bags are also provided. Some services reuse the same talk and song list from a service earlier in the day.

Other activities
Another important activity of HTB is its yearly church camp, named Focus. This takes place over a week at a seaside campsite where typically 3,000 people attend and involve themselves in the many seminars, workshops and recreational activities. The size also attracts some prominent speakers to speak on issues affecting the church and society. Regular such speakers include Mike Pilavachi from Soul Survivor, the Bishop of London Richard Chartres, Frog and Amy Orr-Ewing from All Saints Church, Peckham, and Pete Greig. Since 1985, HTB has been actively involved in a process called Church planting whereby struggling churches in London are boosted by scores - sometimes hundreds - of people committing to move from HTB to the identified church for at least a year. This also involves at least one member of HTB's clergy similarly moving to the new church to help lead worship, form Pastorates and run local Alpha courses. Over the years nine churches have been planted in this way, including St Gabriels, Cricklewood, with some of these churches going on to make Church Plants of their own. The most recent such plant was to Holy Trinity Swiss Cottage in October 2006. HTB also has thriving children's and youth ministries. Other notable activities HTB undertakes are services twice a year involving the large HTB choir - at Easter and Christmas - and several free classical concerts that utilise the church's pipe organ that was refurbished in 2004 as well as drawing on the talent of the nearby music colleges. In September 2005 HTB started providing the talks given at the Sunday services as free downloads from its website and through the iTunes podcast directory. These downloads, which HTB has termed HTB Podcasts, have proved popular and more recently other talks specifically provided for the HTB Podcast community have also been offered, including answers to questions sent in by listeners. Each month the total download count from this catalogue of talks is over 40,000, with some talks making it into the top ten in the Religion and Spirituality section for iTunes. HTB is also home to:
  • Worship Central, led by worship pastors Tim Hughes and Al Gordon; and
  • St Paul's Theological Centre, led by its Principal Graham Tomlin.