All Saints, rated PG
All Saints is one of the best faith-based films I’ve seen. Based on a true story, it is an inspirational film that is well-directed, written and acted.
The film is directed by Steve Gomer and written by Steve Armour. It tells the story of the All Saints Episcopal Church in Smyrna, Tennessee, located near Nashville. As a bonus, the movie is filmed at the actual All Saints Church and includes several actual church members portraying themselves.
Golden Globe nominee John Corbett (Northern Exposure, Sex and the City) turns in a strong performance as the likeable Michael Spurlock. He is a former paper salesman, who is a newly ordained pastor. His first assignment is to shut down All Saints Church, which now has just a few members and a large mortgage. The contents and land will bring a lot of money to the diocese when sold to a big box store.
Gregory Alan Williams stars as Pastor Spurlock’s kind but firm supervisor Bishop Eldon Thompson. He tells him to just do his job of closing down the church and he and his family – wife Aimee (Cara Buono, Stranger Things) and son Atticus (Myles Moore) – can move on to their next assignment in a few months.
Pastor Spurlock is not exactly greeted with open arms by the few remaining church members, particularly cranky Vietnam war veteran Forrest (Barry Corbin, Northern Exposure), who has recently lost his wife. They know why he is there, the inevitable closing down and sale of their church. In the meantime, Aimee decides to start a choir at the church.
A week before it is to be demolished, several Karen State refugees from war-torn Myanmar (formerly Burma) arrive at the church. Led by Ye Win (Nelson Lee), one of the few who speaks English, the refugees are Anglican believers and farmers. Pastor Spurlock’s heart goes out to them, but the church is broke and can’t really help them. But one night he believes that God speaks to him about letting the refugees farm the land around the church. The crops would feed the refugees, support them financially and pay the church mortgage. Spurlock will have to convince Bishop Thompson and the church council, who have been counting on the proceeds from the sale of the church property. But is this really God’s will, or the former salesman’s? And if they were to go for it, just how will they do it? The church is strapped financially, and doesn’t have any equipment to plant, plow and water the fields.
John Corbett is excellent in the role of Pastor Spurlock. It was refreshing that he was not portrayed as the perfect man or pastor. He has good chemistry with fellow Northern Exposure cast member Barry Corbin and Nelson Lee, the self-sacrificing leader of the refugees.
This is the rare faith-based film that is well-made – directing, writing and acting – that it is based on a true story makes it all the better. It is a story of self-sacrifice, building community and loving your neighbor. Highly recommended!