|Turning Points: Stories of Life and Change in the Church: Press Release|
New Documentary Puts Human Faces on Difficult Issue --
Place of Gay and Lesbian Christians in the Mainline Church
Turning Points: Stories of Life and Change in the Church
As part of Pride Month programming in June 2006, KQED is serving as Presenting Station for a new, award-winning documentary, Turning Points: Stories of Life and Change in the Church. The hour-long documentary will be distributed to public television stations by NETA.
Turning Points was selected for screening at Frameline29, the 29th San Francisco International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival. In a highly unusual pairing, it was also named best educational video (non-broadcast) of 2004 by the Religion Communicators Council.
Issues raised in the film will be much in the national news in June. Both the Presbyterian Church, which meets every other year, and the Episcopal Church, which meets every third year, hold their national meetings in June, with gay/lesbian issues high on both agendas.
Turning Points shows Presbyterians struggling with the denomination's current barriers to ordination to the ministry for gay and lesbian church members. The documentary presents four stories, set in different contexts. It opens with the poignant visit of Susie Smith, now a minister in the United Church of Christ, to her former Presbyterian congregation in South Carolina. Congregation members speak to the camera and to Susie about how their lives were changed by her presence and her departure. The choice between one's son and one's church is the focus of the Calhoun family's story in the second segment. The third story recounts a tragic moment of misunderstanding in the life of a young minister and a daring act of reconciliation twenty years later. The fourth segment considers how a thriving congregation in the Midwest welcomes and includes gay and lesbian members.
The four varied stories are framed by insightful and often witty comments by respected Biblical scholars including Walter Brueggemann and Beverly Gaventa, interpreting some of the biblical passages often discussed in church controversies about homosexuality.
Turning Points is produced by The Covenant Network of Presbyterians. Director David Sampliner's previous feature-length documentary, Dirty Work, about necessary but unpleasant jobs, was shown at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival. He has worked as a writer and researcher for several other film projects including Out of the Past, a PBS documentary on the struggle for gay and lesbian civil rights, and Ken Burns' PBS series The West.
Macky Alston and Mixed Greens/ Greenhouse Pictures served as Executive Producers for the project. Alston's prize-winning documentaries include Family Name, which won the Freedom of Expression Award at Sundance in 1997, and 2002's Questioning Faith.
The video is designed to spark discussion of the appropriate role for gay or lesbian Christians to take in their churches. It also speaks to those who are not currently members of a Christian community but who have questions about what Christian scripture and teachings really say on the issue of who can be called to ministry.
The Covenant Network of Presbyterians is a broad-based, national group of clergy and lay leaders working for a church that is simultaneously faithful, just, and whole. In the nine years since its founding, it has become the most influential of several groups working to open the ordination standards of the Presbyterian Church. It speaks from the church's historic, progressive vision and is committed to finding a way both to live out the graciously hospitable gospel message and to keep the church from dividing over this issue.
Turning Points is available in DVD and VHS format for $10 each through the Covenant Network of Presbyterians. Contact the Covenant Network at 415.351.2196 or visit its website at www.covenantnetwork.org
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