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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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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Great Escapes: The More You Travel, The Farther You’ll Go!

Great Escapes: The More You Travel, The Farther You’ll Go!

Healthy Living

We all know how great it feels to get away, but do you know how important those vacation days are for your health and well-being? Trips away are good for our body and soul.

And as it turns out, adding mileage to your vacation can also increase your longevity.

According to an article published by U.S. News & World Report, putting real distance between you and your workplace could very well add years to your life. It isn’t enough just to take time away from the office – we need to advance toward new and faraway destinations. Experiencing new places is invigorating, refreshing, and boosts our creativity. By stimulating feelings of awe and admiration, taking in new sights (and sites) can even make us more compassionate and help us better connect with others.

A change of venue is good for your body too. Breaking away from our regular routine frees us up to take on unique, invigorating activities. The more distant our adventure, the more physically active we tend to be. For example, most of us are more likely to go hiking among exotic ruins than we may be to go walking around our own neighborhood.

We cannot overlook the benefits of reducing our stress levels either. Crossing oceans or long lengths of blacktop not only stirs our sense of adventure – it helps us relax at the same time. Changing our backdrop removes us from our regular stressors of job, house, and mundane responsibilities. In addition, planning for a special trip gives us something amazing to look forward to throughout the year, keeping our focus on better, wondrous things ahead. Improve your scenery. . . and extend your expectations for life down the road.

-Jean Bowick

YMCA of Greater Birmingham, www.ymcabham.org

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Packed & Ready for the Next Excursion with Mark’s Outdoors

Packed & Ready for the Next Excursion with Mark’s Outdoors

The Great Outdoors

For quality luggage and everything else you need for your next adventure, visit Mark’s Outdoors in Vestavia.

Vacation, vacation, vacation. That’s what summer is all about, right? Whether you are spending time with the family at the beach soaking in the strong summer sun, or looking for that next hill to climb to check off your summer bucket list, you need to be prepared with the best-equipped luggage. Summer vacations are rendered useless without the proper luggage at your hip and why not do it in style and with the peace of mind that it will last you for life?

This is where Mark’s Outdoors has you set and ready to go. Stop in and take a look at their amazing selection of Filson Luggage. In business since 1897, Filson has thrived on a reputation of honesty, quality, durability and listening to what their customers want. With a lifetime warranty, these canvas goldmines will give you the style and toughness needed for any type of vacation, business trip, or overnight weekend in the great outdoors.

Mark’s Outdoors selection of Filson pieces include everything from small excursion bags to rolling check-in bags. Depending on the size, pieces range in price from $175 to $600. Filson uses only the best materials obtainable and guarantees it on every piece of merchandise.

Visit Mark’s and set yourself up for the long haul, knowing you are putting trust in over 100 years of experience in the Luggage industry with Filson and the customer care of Mark’s Outdoors.

– Mark’s Outdoors 

1400-B Montgomery Highway, Vestavia 35216

205-822- 2010, www.marksoutdoors.com

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Best Books: Rev. Michael Spurlock & Jeanette Windle

All Saints

Written by Rev. Michael Spurlock and Jeanette Windle, the book, All Saints, will be available in September at Sanctuary Christian Books and Gifts, Alabaster. A movie based upon the true story will release at the end of August. See page 16 for more details.

Rev. Michael Spurlock’s first assignment as a new pastor was about as bad as it gets. All Saints Episcopal Church was down to 25 members and in financial stress. Debt. Division. Despair. These are toxic words for a church, and All Saints was dying. Then, nine months later, three travelers from the east showed up to worship Jesus, and everything changed. Hope was born. A holy family was created. New life began to stir.

All Saints (Bethany House, $14.99) is the true story of how three Sunday visitors were used by God to bring new life to a struggling Episcopalian church in Smyrna, Tenn. By welcoming the immigrants from war-torn Myanmar into their church, the congregation found a new mission in God’s Kingdom. With the influx of seventy-five Burmese refugees, All Saints became diverse rather than divided, a community of faith mirroring the multi-cultural kingdom of God. There were struggles, but there was also one blessing after another as God worked among them in wondrous ways.

All Saints reflects God’s design to break down ever wall and division which violates the unity of his kingdom. Jesus is our peace, and he has made all groups into one by reconciling us not only to God, but also to one another. In Jesus we become fellow citizens, brothers and sisters in God’s family, one body united in our faith. All Saints reminds us that when we see our neighbor as God sees them, God will do incredible things among us.

 

Jeanette Windle

Rev. Michael Spurlock

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Darrel Holcombe, Owner
Sanctuary Christian Books and Gifts
Colonial Promenade, Alabaster

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Defending the Faith: Jay Watts

Defending the Faith: Jay Watts

Church Leaders

A researcher at the Life Training Institute in Atlanta, Ga., Jay Watts will be in Birmingham August 7 to present as a part of the “Defending the Faith” conference at Samford University, www.tacticalfaith.com

If you are a pastor or engaged lay person, you will not want to miss the upcoming “Defending the Faith” conference hosted by Tactical Faith ministry and Samford University. The one day event, August 7, includes multiple workshops. One of the keynote presenters will be speaker, writer and Life Training Institute researcher Jay Watts, who will share on the topics of “Apologetics – Defending the Christian Faith” and “Christianity and Culture.”

Having come from an atheist background, Watts understands the struggles that many non-Christians have with faith. “I didn’t grow up a Christian. My path to the Gospel wasn’t set out for me in church youth group or family Bible study. I wandered toward faith following a trail of bread crumbs left for me through reasonable answers to my questions that ultimately guided me to the cross. There is no doubt that this impacts my approach to my job, which centers around addressing the value of human life and the general Christian worldview,” explains Watts, adding, “I see apologetics as both defensive and proactive. In one sense, we are equipped to answer questions that might safeguard against a corrosive form of skepticism. In another, we are able to actively identify and confront injustice in the world around us in a gracious and impacting manner. That is, in a broad sense, what my talks will address.” Watts is a hard-hitting speaker, while at the same time, is winsome and approachable. His specialty is engaging students and young adults with the consequences of their worldview. There are a limited number of seats available for the August 7 “Defending the Faith” event. Registration is $20 for a full day of training and includes lunch. Learn more and register at www.tacticalfaith.com. †

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Music Notes: Ellie Holcomb

Music Notes: Ellie Holcomb

Dove Award Winning Ellie Holcomb On Stage in Birmingham

Enjoy “Hymns of Hope: A Night with Ellie Holcomb,” August 24 at Iron City Birmingham, 513 22nd St S, 35233. Purchase tickets at www.prodigalpottery.org. Learn more about Holcomb at www.ellieholcomb.com.

Get ready for a great night of beautiful music and inspiration at Iron City Birmingham on Thursday August 24.  “Hymns of Hope” features an evening with Dove Award winning singer-song writer Ellie Holcomb and benefits Shelby County’s Prodigal Pottery, a ministry of King’s Home. Prodigal Pottery’s mission is “to provide a safe and therapeutic work environment for women in need that develops healthy professional skills, interpersonal relationships and spiritual depth.” The ministry provides women fleeing homelessness and domestic abuse with meaningful employment, while equipping them with entrepreneurial skills needed to succeed.

The title song of Ellie Holcomb’s latest project, Red Sea Road, has been a sweet gift of hope to the women of Prodigal Pottery, and you can hear Holcomb sing this powerful tune and many others live August 24. The single “Find You Here” is particularly personal. It’s a song about the profound peace Holcomb and her family experienced in the wake of a cancer diagnosis for her dad, music producer Brown Bannister. “It didn’t make any sense to have peace with so many questions and unknowns on the horizon, but we really did experience God drawing near to our broken hearts in a palpable and beautiful way,” she explains, adding, “The song is a celebration of the faithfulness of God, and how He shows up in the most unlikely, most broken places.” Red Sea Road is a record full of songs that capture how Holcomb has seen God show up in the middle of a painful and heavy season in her life and those around her.

The Nashville native began her musical career touring the country with husband Drew Holcomb and The Neighbors. After 8 years, and the birth of their daughter, Emmylou, Ellie opted to step out of the role of heavy touring. From that space came her debut solo album, As Sure As The Sun, which charted at No. 1 on the iTunes Christian chart and helped deem Holcomb the “Best New Artist” at the 2014 Dove Awards. Enjoy Holcomb performing live while you help women in our community rebuild their lives. Learn more and purchase tickets at www.prodigalpottery.com. †

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Photo Fun

“Finley Center Celebration”

The Hoover City Council is seen here with Mrs. Diane Finley, wife of Coach Bob Finley, at the grand opening and ribbon cutting of the new Finley Center named after the longtime head coach at Hoover’s W. A. Berry High School. The council presented Mrs. Finley with a proclamation honoring Coach Finley who “taught his students as much about integrity as he did football and basketball.”  The 155,000 square foot indoor events center includes 11 regulation size basketball courts, 17 regulation size volleyball courts, walking track, meeting and banquet space, trade show space and more. The Greater Birmingham Convention and Visitors Bureau has estimated this facility will bring an economic impact for the City of Hoover of between $27 million and $33 million yearly.

“Healthy Hearts for Horizons”

Birmingham’s Horizons School recently celebrated its 25th Anniversary with a fundraising cooking competition among students. The school provides a community-based educational program promoting successful transition to independent living for young adults with learning disabilities, autism spectrum and developmental disorders. Students took what they learned about healthy cooking this year and shared it at the school’s Healthy Hearts for Horizons event at Jefferson State Community College- Shelby Campus that included dinner and a live auction. Guests watched students preparing appetizers for the reception through the glass-enclosed windows around the kitchens! Learn more at www.horizonsschool.org.

“King & Queen”

Lynley Frieze and Austin Lewis were crowned Prom King & Queen at “PreemiePROMises,” a reunion event hosted by St. Vincent’s Birmingham for its neonatal intensive care unit graduates and their families. Attendees enjoyed ‘prom-style’ music, dancing and food. Proceeds from ticket sales and a silent auction benefited St. Vincent’s Birmingham NICU.

 

“Respect for Old Glory”

American Heritage Girl Mary Catherine Stephens respectfully retires a flag during the flag retirement ceremony held by the members of the Msgr. Frank J. Wade Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus Assembly at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church in Homewood. The group collected more than 50 frayed and faded flags from the community.

 

 

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