“All Saints” is an amazing movie which was inspired by a true story that took place at the All Saints Episcopal Church in Smyrna, Tennessee. It’s a beautiful faith-based story that isn’t preachy or dogmatic and is a film that can be enjoyed by people from all belief systems.
Newly ordained Michael Spurlock, along with his wife and son, were sent to the church to close it down. Because of lack of funds and the dwindling attendance of just a handful of people, the diocese could no longer afford to keep it open. He was to inventory the property and oversee the sale.
A week before the scheduled demolition, dozens of refugees from war-torn Burma, who are ethic Karen farmers, arrive and start attending the church with more refugees to follow. They are very poor and to hear the stories of what they went through with the war was heart breaking. Many lives were lost and they were left with horrendous memories of their journey.
Spurlock’s son asks about the refugees and Spurlock says, “Let’s keep them in our prayers and ask for God’s help.” His son replies, “Aren’t you God’s help?”
Later, Spurlock believes he hears the voice of God to use the church land to grow crops to help provide food and shelter for the refugees, as well as to create an income for the church. The Karen farmers are experienced in growing crops, and with the help of the church members, they plant a field of vegetables.
During one tragedy, the Smyrna community, which included other religions, comes to their aid. It didn’t matter that they were helping refugees, and color, race, religion, wasn’t an issue. They came to help human beings who were in need. This was a community that followed the teachings of Jesus to love and care for one another no matter who they may be.
In a time when refugees are being de-humanized by so many, this was a brilliant movie which showed that these beautiful human beings are just trying to survive and make a life for themselves. It also showed how these wonderful Christians embraced them and sacrificed personally and financially, and how they welcomed the Karen and showed them a love that you would hope to see come from Christians and others. This glorious community not only saved the church, but they saved each other through the love, compassion, and kindness that was taught by Jesus.
“Don’t speak to me about your religion; first show it to me in how you treat other people. Don’t tell me how much you love your God; show me in how much you love all his children. Don’t preach to me your passion for your faith; teach me through your compassion for your neighbors. In the end, I’m not as interested in what you have to tell or sell as I am in how you choose to live and give.” Cory Booker
Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper September 1, 2017.