Inspirational Drama “All Saints” Tells True Story of How Myanmar Refugees Saved a Dying Episcopal Church

Bu Crist listens during an English class at All Saints Episcopal Church in Smyrna in 2008. Refugees from Myanmar have helped to revitalize All Saints Episcopal Church in Smyrna. (George Walker IV / File / The Tennessean)
Bu Crist listens during an English class at All Saints Episcopal Church in Smyrna in 2008. Refugees from Myanmar have helped to revitalize All Saints Episcopal Church in Smyrna. (George Walker IV / File / The Tennessean)

The true story of how refugees from Myanmar breathed new life into a floundering Episcopal church in Smyrna is being brought to the big screen.

The inspirational drama “All Saints” will star John Corbett of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” and “Northern Exposure” as well as Cara Buono of “Stranger Things” and “Mad Men,” according to Affirm Films and Provident Films, the entities behind the movie. It is inspired by what happened at All Saints’ Episcopal Church about a decade ago.

All Saints’ Episcopal Church, led by the Rev. Michael Spurlock at the time, was on the verge of closing and trying to start over when a group of Karen refugees forced out of Myanmar joined the Rutherford County church, according to a 2008 article published by The Tennessean. The congregation struggled to figure out how to minister to the group’s physical and spiritual needs as well as pay church bills. But then they all worked together and started a farm on the property, which helped solve both issues.

“The story of All Saints’ Church in Smyrna is an inspiring one. A refugee community has brought new life to this corner of Middle Tennessee. Parishioners at All Saints’ from far and near work together to minister in the name of Christ, learning from each other in the process,” Bishop John Bauerschmidt, of the Episcopal Diocese of Tennessee, said in an email.

Crews have been filming the movie in Nashville and Smyrna, including at the actual church on Lee Victory Parkway. Filming in Middle Tennessee was expected to wrap up by mid-October.

The Tennessean recently sat down with Rich Peluso, senior vice president of Affirm Films, to discuss the movie.

Why did you think the All Saints’ story would make a good movie?

It’s a very timely story in that it is dealing with refugees. I love this story of these refugees who stumbled into a church and found American Christians that embraced them and would sacrifice personally, financially and in many ways to welcome the Karen and show them a love that you would hope and expect to see come from Christians. The other thing that appealed to me is that so often in faith-based films the stories center around those who are the most publicly engaged and vocal about their faith, which are called the evangelical Protestants. I’m an evangelical Protestant, but there’s a whole other section of the Christian church in America that are often called the mainline church. What I loved about this story is that it came up out this mainline Episcopalian church and these people are just as focused on their faith and loving as a lot of other Christians are.

 

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SOURCE: The Tennessean
Holly Meyer

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