I am God’s Help: Actor John Corbett

I am God’s Help: Actor John Corbett

I am God’s Help: Actor John Corbett

John Corbett with Rev. Michael Spurlock, whom he portrays in the new movie All Saints. Corbett says Spurlock shared with him what it was like to literally hear God’s voice: “He was just walking in a field—it was nighttime—thinking about the future of the church and the Karen people, and he said he heard a voice as plain as the voice he was talking to me in that gave him instructions on how to make all this work out by turning the field into a garden,” Corbett says. “He said it wasn’t a voice he’d ever heard before. It wasn’t a voice inside of his head. It was a voice talking to him—a man’s voice.”

Best known for his roles in Northern Exposure and My Big Fat Greek Wedding, actor John Corbett is no stranger to the plight of refugees revealed in his latest film All Saints. He grew up the only child to a single mother who worked for minimum wage in a hospital supply room, living in a two-bedroom apartment in West Virginia with a host of neighbors from Vietnam. Immigrants, the neighbors didn’t speak English, worked in local restaurants and often fit 15 people in an apartment the same size as his. Corbett still recalls the concern he felt toward their struggle to be accepted and to succeed. In All Saints, Corbett portrays Michael Spurlock, an Episcopal pastor who risks his family’s future to support a group of Burmese refugees when his church is on the verge of financial collapse. Based on a true story, Corbett says the film is an example of the kind of compassion he has strived for his entire life.

As Corbett navigated the diverse neighborhood of his youth, he also attended a small Catholic school for grades 1 through 12. “We went to church every day; we had to wear little dress pants and shoes and white shirts and clip on ties,” he remembers. “Becoming an altar boy gave me a work ethic in life. At a young age, I had to be at the rectory at a certain time getting my vestments on, preparing things.” After high school, Corbett moved to California to join his father in work as a welder and a boilermaker. When an injury forced him off the job, he enrolled at Cerritos College, located between Los Angeles and Long Beach. “I coincidentally met some young actors, right out of high school, who were goofing around in the cafeteria one day. We shot the bull for about half an hour, and they invited me to see their improv class. That was 1984, and I had never seen anything like it. I decided to drop all my other classes and only sign up for acting classes,” he remembers. A few months later, Corbett had the lead role in “Hair” on campus, singing and dancing on stage as his father sat stunned in the audience. “He couldn’t believe his welder son was up there doing a shuffle.”

In All Saints, actor John Corbett, portrays Rev. Michael Spurlock who welcomes refugees from Burma despite the financially failing state of his Tenn. country church. In this scene from the movie, Spurlock is seen with refugee Ye Win (portrayed by Nelson Lee), who served as a spokesperson for the refugees who were striving for a fresh start in America and needed healthcare, education, clothing and food.

From 1986 to 1990, Corbett was hired for 50 national commercials. His first speaking role was as Karen Arnold’s boyfriend on Season 1 of The Wonder Years. He went on to roles as Chris Stephens in Northern Exposure, Aidan Shaw in Sex and the City and Ian Miller in My Big Fat Greek Wedding. He also started a country rock band that occasionally plays at WorkPlay in Birmingham. Corbett credits God’s providence with his transition from the steel factory to the stage. Corbett’s relationship with God today is heavily weighted in prayer. He prays for compassion. He prays for the lost, for other people’s souls. He prays to be less judgmental. “I try to be a good person and have forgiveness and have compassion and tolerance and just really try to listen,” he says. “Listening is big with me. That means letting people finish their sentence and not be in a rush to tell my story.”

The story of All Saints, however, is one he is quick to tell. After trading in his corporate sales career to become a pastor, Michael Spurlock had one assignment from his superiors: close the quaint country church in Smyrna, Tenn. for good, sell everything on the property and try to keep losses to a minimum. However, a group of Burmese refugees approached him for help, and Spurlock decided to sideline the Bishop’s instructions and turn the property into a working farm to pay the church’s bills and feed its newest people. Contemplating what it means to obey God’s voice when success isn’t guaranteed, the film is more of a “contemporary drama” than an argument for the Christian faith, says Rich Peluso of Affirm Films. It’s about people of faith living out ordinary circumstances in extraordinary ways.

John Corbett stars alongside Christian comedian Chonda Pierce as well as Cara Buono from the television series “Stranger Things” and Gregory Alan Williams from Hidden Figures, in the movie All Saints, in theatres August 25.

If there’s any intentional message for All Saints viewers, Corbett says, it’s a simple directive to help others. “A church’s responsibility might be to care for the poor, but the church is also in business sometimes, and if the church is losing money they have to shut their doors. That’s just the way it goes. But we are human beings, and we don’t have to shut our doors.” Comparing Spurlock to the Bethlehem innkeeper the night Jesus was born, he continues: “When the Karen (pronounced kuh-REN) [refugees] showed up at Michael’s door, it would have been so easy for him to say I care about you and I love you and I’m sorry, but the inn is closed. The guy who ran the inn when Joseph and Mary showed up, who knows maybe [he] was a nice guy, maybe he did have a full house. Michael could have done the same thing and he didn’t.”

As revealed in the film, Spurlock’s vision was not without serious complications. Weather, machinery and manpower problems all threaten to ruin his plan to save his church and give hope to the area’s refugees. But it’s the realization that a community can come together to help others that matters most. Corbett’s favorite line from the film is when Spurlock tells his son, Atticus, that he will just have to pray for God to help the Karen. “Atticus says, ‘but aren’t you God’s help?’ I like that because he’s so right. Yeah, I am God’s help,” Corbett says. “That line, every time I read it, it just sort of made me smile.”

  • Camille Smith Platt 

 

Photo Credit: Courtesy AFFIRM Films

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“God Bless America!”

“God Bless America!”

Photo Fun OLS July 4th Fest

Joshua Handra wears the perfect outfit during Birmingham’s Oldest Independence Day celebration, hosted by Our Lady of Sorrows (OLS) Catholic Church in Homewood.

Samantha and Jessica Chriesman donate a homemade cake to the Cake Booth at the 68th Annual Independence Day Festival which benefitted OLS School, special charities, and the Knights of Columbus. (Pic labeled #9748 OLS July 4)

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“Traveling the World in Your Own Backyard”

Photo Fun 

7th grader Max McGwin shares his knowledge about United Arab Emirates with other students during the International Fair at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic School in Homewood.

Students enjoy learning about Kazakhstan as 7th grader Zach Wedlund explains its culture at the International Fair held at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic School.

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“Christ-Like Students”

“Christ-Like Students”

Photo Fun

Our Lady of Sorrows (OLS) Catholic School students MaryGlynn Barlow and Campbell Farr are seen here with OLS Principal Mary Jan Dorn after being recognized as the 2017 recipients of the Outstanding Christian Award. The award is traditionally given to an eighth-grade boy and girl each year who shows continuous service to others, has an outstanding attitude, and lives each day in a Christ-like manner.

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Photo Fun Baptism

“Jesus Loves the Little Children”

Rev. J. Mark Kuehnert baptizes Julia Lauren Kuehnert, daughter of Ali and Justin Kuehnert, at The Lutheran Church of Vestavia Hills.

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Caring for Your Aging Pet

Caring for Your Aging Pet

Two by 2

Pets, like adults, have new and more frequent health issues as they age. A pet is considered senior at age seven and veterinarians recommend bringing them in twice a year for an examination. During this time, we can look at diet and weight management, joint health, eye health and perform lab tests to determine how their thyroid, kidney and liver is functioning and screen for diseases like diabetes.

Even if your pet is not yet age seven, joint health can be a concern for many pets, particularly larger breeds or pets that are carrying a few extra pounds. Osteoarthritis (OA) is the number one cause of chronic pain in dogs, affecting about 1 in 5 dogs in the United States. It is a degenerative disease that worsens with age as the protective cartilage in joints wears down and causes painful swelling and stiffness that can make movement difficult. Arthritis can affect any joint but it is commonly diagnosed in knees, elbows, wrists, hips and the spine.

Dogs suffering from OA may avoid activity like running or stairs, shy away from being held or picked up, limp, seem irritable and lethargic, or just not like their usual selves. Although there is no cure, OA pain can be managed with appropriate treatment to help your dog stay as active as possible. A treatment plan may include PREVICOX (firocoxib) to relieve pain and inflammation, joint health supplements as well as appropriate exercise and weight control. If you suspect your pet may be in pain or you notice any of the signs above, talk to your veterinarian now to start treatment before the condition worsens. Pets are adept at hiding pain from us so we as their caregivers must watch for the symptoms they might need help.

Jeff Falone, DVM 

Valleydale Animal Clinic

205-991-5416

 www.valleydaleanimalclinic.com

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Robo Advisors have arrived, but life often calls for a Human Touch

Money Matters

After years of development, numerous robo advisors have entered the world of investment management. Still, many investors may not fully understand exactly what robos do, or how they do it. A robo advisor is a digital platform that uses advanced algorithms (based on various financial models and assumptions) to select and manage investments. To keep costs relatively low, portfolios are typically composed of exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and mutual funds that track market indexes. The recommended allocations, available strategies, and various other features can differ significantly from one service to another. To start the process, the investor fills out a standard online questionnaire designed to determine his or her risk tolerance and investment objectives. The software builds a portfolio with a mix of assets that align with the client’s stated short- and long-term financial goals, such as saving for a home purchase, a child’s college expenses, or retirement. This kind of cutting-edge technology may be especially appealing to younger investors, who are more comfortable with managing their lives on electronic devices — and who may not have as much at stake. However, some risks may not be fully understood. Robo advisors have yet to be tested by an economic downturn or times of extreme market volatility, when panicked and/or inexperienced investors may be more likely to abandon their investment strategies without a familiar voice to guide them through the storm.

A financial advisor can provide personalized, face-to-face guidance to clients as they accumulate wealth and their needs become more complex. To put it simply, there are still some critical things that people can do better than computers.

  1. Get to know their clients. The true value of a financial advisor may lie in emotional intelligence and interaction. When personal relationships are formed, advisors gain insight into each client’s unique financial picture, including their priorities, pressing concerns, and psychological tendencies.
  2. Offer more choices & comprehensive service. Robo advisors can manage investment assets for less than the fees normally charged by personal financial advisors. But robo services are typically limited to portfolio management, and their reliance on ETFs and mutual funds means that investors may not have access to individual stocks and bonds, or to some types of alternative investments and strategies.
  3. Provide accountability & perspective. What happens when an investor veers off track and is not making sufficient progress toward his or her stated financial goals? While it may be easy to ignore the recommendations of a robo advisor, it might be more difficult to disregard a trusted advisor. The prospect of regular checkups with a real person who cares about a client’s future might inspire more realistic decisions about spending and saving. A financial advisor typically can keep clients better informed by discussing the financial issues that matter to them, which may help give them more confidence in their decisions.

 – Hal B. Holland, Jr., RFC®

Vice President, Senior Advisor

Vision Financial Group 

4505 Pine Tree Circle, Birmingham, AL 35243

205-970-4909, www.vision-financialgroup.com

Prepared by Broadridge Communication Solutions, Inc. Investment advisory services offered through Investment Advisors, a division of ProEquities, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor.  Securities offered through ProEquities Inc., a registered broker-dealer and member of FINRA and SIPC.  Vision Financial Group, Inc. and West Alabama Bank are independent of ProEquities, Inc. Securities and insurance products offered are not bank deposits, have no bank guarantee, are not FDIC insured, and may lose value.Prepared for: Save New Client

 

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Showering God’s Love

Showering God’s Love

Mission Makers

Mountain Brook Baptist Church recently hosted a Sav-a-Life shower for expectant moms and dads. Learn more about how you can volunteer to help with a similar event at www.savalife.org.

Is your church or organization looking for a unique opportunity to share the Gospel? Consider partnering with Sav-A-Life Vestavia to shower God’s love on expectant parents. About eight times a year, this faith-based organization hosts baby showers which include presents, cake, Good News and God’s love.

Leading up to each shower, Sav-A-Life invites expectant women to come to a series of classes to learn about birth and motherhood. Fathers are invited to participate as well. These classes are diverse, ranging from traditional methods to doulas. Their purpose is to give each expectant mother a range of ideas and options to consider pursuing. Any expectant mother can attend the classes. Everyone who completes the class can participate in a group baby shower. Sav-A-Life’s ministry partners, including area churches, host these parties. The expectant mothers and fathers, regardless of background, spiritual walk or socio economic status, are showered with baby toys and necessities so that they may experience the love of Christ. No one asks or expects anything in return. “My favorite part is seeing the new moms and dads at the showers overwhelmed at the outpouring of love from complete strangers. These are people who are giving purely out of love with ‘no strings attached,’ ” explains Janice Johnson, with Sav-A-Life’s Family Education Services. During the shower, the host ministry has the opportunity to present the Gospel. This part of the shower does not have a set protocol or structure. Rather, every gathering sees a unique presentation of the Gospel as each ministry partner shares the love of Jesus in its own way. Because of these volunteers and gift-givers, each expectant parent is able to feel the love of Christ, and touch the hands and feet of Jesus. If your organization is looking for a new opportunity to share the Gospel, consider Sav-A-Life’s baby showers. Learn more at www.savalife.org or call Janice Johnson at 205-979-0302.

  • Abby Holcombe

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Serve Christ by Serving His Church

Serve Christ by Serving His Church

Mission Makers

70 churches over 37 years built by hundreds of volunteers to reach thousands for the sake of the Gospel = Builders for Christ (BFC).

Karen Denenberg (center) from Meadow Brook Baptist nails roof shingles during Builders for Christ project in Gatlinburg, Tenn.

By the end of August 2017, eleven Baptist churches and organizations from the Birmingham area will have sent Builders for Christ (BFC) teams to Gatlinburg, Tenn. to help reconstruct the Worship Center and Family Life Center of Roaring Forks Baptist Church. Both buildings were destroyed in the fires that swept through the area last year. “It’s almost like a family reunion,” says Kellyann German, 4-year BFC veteran (Meadow Brook Baptist). Overall, teams will have come from 76 churches in 22 states bringing more than 1,800 volunteers including newcomers, seasoned veterans, families, teenagers, and couples. Some are skilled (e.g. home builders, engineers, architects) but the vast majority is non-skilled laborers (e.g. nurses, teachers, salespersons, homemakers). They come for one week to offer Kingship efforts nailing roof shingles, installing sheetrock, designing ductwork, sawing boards, and cutting metal supports. Regardless of the task, all come with willing hearts to serve and sweat.

Construction takes place between late May and mid-August every year. However, much planning has occurred earlier in the year through an extensive screening process. This year’s site selection was Gatlinburg, Tenn. Last year it was Greenfield, Wis. BFC has been all over the country building churches. “Every trip we encounter churches with different ministries and different needs,” says German. “This year’s trip was unusual in that it followed a disaster. Roaring Forks had an involved transportation and feeding ministry for children and that ministry needed to be able to continue.” German’s husband Brandon, a 6-year veteran, said he especially enjoyed doing HVAC because it taught him a lesson in the concept of serving. “HVAC is an unseen task; it is the epitome of servanthood to me.” Numerous others, when asked what they like, simply said it is a blessing.

Mike Foster from First Baptist Church Birmingham cutting support structures in the rebuilding of Roaring Forks Baptist, Gatlinburg, Tenn.

Lawrence Corley, founder of Builders for Christ and member of Brookwood Baptist, Birmingham, Ala. proudly admits, “I’ve never met a single person unless they were too feeble (he chuckles) who couldn’t help with construction.” Ken Howell (Meadow Brook Baptist) reinforces Corley’s statement. “You don’t have to be skilled to be of great help.” Corley quickly adds that volunteer cooks play a significant role. They feed volunteers three times a day with a grand slam breakfast, a sandwich/fruit lunch combo, and a dinner equivalent to a Thanksgiving meal. Between 300-500 meals/day are prepared throughout the fifteen weeks of construction.

“Serve Christ by serving His church,” that’s what the Germans say they do now every summer and urge others to do the same. For details on joining the mission visit www.baptistbuildersforchrist.org.

Karen Allen 

Author of Confronting Cancer with Faith, www.confrontingcancerwithfaith.com

 

 

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