Relationship between Faith and Film to be discussed in Conference

The use of contemporary culture for the preaching of the Gospel has become more prevalent in recent times. The most famous example is the heat of “The Passion of the Christ” which swept throughout the whole world. The 2004 Faith and Film conference, running from 17th-19th September at Collingwood College at the University of Durham, will look at how churches can use modern movies to create opportunities for outreach. It has been recommended by the Methodist Church of Great Britain.

Andrew Wood, Convenor of the Methodist Interface group, which is co-sponsoring the event, said “we are going to be discussing the impact of films on popular culture and how to use movies in the local church. We’ll be looking at movies such as The Lord of the Rings, The Shawshank Redemption, Harry Potter, and Big Fish, but also upcoming titles such as Super Size Me!” The Passion of the Christ, The Village and The Matrix are going to be spotlights as well.

Movie professionals, academics and theologians will present the event and address the relationship between movie culture and Christian faith, so as to offer ideas for church leaders, preachers, youth workers and others who are interested in spreading Christian faith inside and outside the church through movies. The event is ecumenical-based and welcomes people from all faiths and denominations.

Anthea Cox, Methodist Co-ordinating Secretary for Public Life and Social Justice, says, “The Faith and Film conference is an exciting opportunity to explore the dialogue there can be between film and religious experience. The conference will look not only at films that have a faith foundation but will also examine the relationship between mainstream film, contemporary society and church.”

In Britain, according to the Christian Enquiry Agency (CEA), over 2500 people who saw “The Passion of the Christ” film have sent response postcards to the organisation asking about Jesus Christ.

Jeff Bonser, the CEA Director, said, “We felt it was vital to provide an opportunity for people to find out more about Jesus while they were still in the cinema and thinking about what they had experienced. Cinema is the most popular form of cultural activity outside the home, attracting over 80% of the entire population in one year and more than 60% of all cinemagoers are under 35. This is the age group that is missing from churches and the film offered a great opportunity to reach them with the reality of the cost of God's love for us all.” Truly, there is a high potential of Christian outreach by the means of movies in the UK.

The speakers at the conference include David Wilkinson from the University of Durham (author of The Power of the Force: The Spirituality of the "Star Wars" Films), filmmaker Murray Watts (The Miracle Maker) and actress Cathy Sara (Topsy Turvy).

For more information call 0191 374 4405 or email [email protected]