February 6, 2013
Allen was raised Methodist and I was raised Catholic. They have some nice church buildings. You know stained glass, frescos, chandeliers and all that. Then we became Baptists. I don't know if it is true for all Baptist denominations, there are a lot of them by the way and not all Baptists are created equal, but for Independent Baptist churches they will make a church building out of just about anything. Allen is known to say, "Baptists will put a pointy (steeple) on anything and call it a church." As a matter of fact our very own church building is nothing more than a house with an auditorium added to it and a steeple on top. Many years ago we knew a man who lived in the same exact model rancher.
In our travels we've visited churches that used to be just about anything and everything you can imagine. One time we even went to a church that was in an insurance office. Which worked out kind of well for them since the agents only needed the building Monday through Friday and the church only needed the building on Sunday morning. For the record we were in Savannah, Georgia and it turns out we were the only white people there as well. Which wouldn't have been any big deal at all except we had the times wrong and came in late. And it turns out the door was located in the middle of the rows of chairs they had set up for service. Add to that our five kids and we were quite a spectacle coming in. In the end it was a great service and we had some great fellowship. Periodically someone says, "Hey, do you remember that black church we went to in Georgia?"
But I digress. Even though they didn't appear to be Baptists, the church in this movie had a lot of good points I could relate to. For one thing, the building does not a church make. God builds His church on those who know and love Him and want to give their lives to His service. I've been in many majestic buildings that could hardly call themselves a church. Likewise, I've visited many a church that barely had a building to call home but were greater than the strongest army in the world.
So when the church of Paradise, Texas burns to the ground and the church decides to remodel an old barn for their new building, I could really relate. Of course, it wasn't all that easy. Hearts were changed and relationships were strengthened along the way.
Oh, and much like Baptists, there was also a potluck and some good old hymns.
“WELCOME TO PARADISE proves the old saying, ‘God plus one equals a majority,’” said Brent Huff, the film’s director and co-writer. “Stars Crystal Bernard and Brian Dennehy bring to life a funny and uplifting story woven throughout with small town characters you’ll grow to care about.” Crystal Bernard (Wings), Brad Stine (CHRISTMAS WITH A CAPITAL C), and Brian Dennehy (THE ULTIMATE GIFT, COCOON), star in this wholesome, light-hearted feature that reminds us how love and acceptance go a long way in showing our faith.
Debbie Laramie uproots her home in Dallas when she’s transferred to a small church in the sleepy town of Paradise, Texas. Once there, Debbie and her teenage son brave a bumpy road as they adjust to a community in need of a guide back to God. The plucky pastor’s unique approach to church life polarizes the members even more—until a catastrophic chain of events leaves them without a building at all. An old barn is their only chance to keep the church alive. With the help of her supporters—and even a few naysayers—Debbie turns a humbling challenge into an opportunity to breathe new life into the community and inspires her new church to trust in her and God’s plan.
From Out of Pocket Films, WELCOME TO PARADISE is distributed by EchoLight Studios. It also features Bobby Edner (SPY KIDS 3D: GAME OVER) and William Shockley (Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman).
“WELCOME TO PARADISE is a film with humor and heart,” said EchoLight Chief Global Strategist Christopher Morrow. “Every member of the family will find a point of connection with this story of faith’s power to bring out our best.”