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April 17, 2013
Premiering film "Home Run" hits home with United Methodist Church recovery ministries
Church's connection to movie runs deep
Nashville, Tenn.: The numbers are staggering. Addiction kills hundreds of thousands of people in the U.S. every year and a sobering fact is that one in four deaths in the U.S. are attributed to alcohol, tobacco and illicit drug abuse.
"Home Run" is a movie about addiction a story of an athlete whose life spirals out of control due to ego and alcohol. Premiering April 19, the inspirational feature film is based on thousands of true stories about people struggling with addiction who found help in a variety of recovery programs, many of them Christian-based.
Cory Brand is an all-star baseball player whose life hits the skids when he brings his drinking problem to the playing field. Suspended from the team, Brand must do penance by coaching youth and attending a recovery program in the small town where he grew up. There, he rediscovers the joy of the game and his faith in God.
More than ever, faith-based organizations are taking on addiction issues and offering ministries that offer Christ-centered care. The United Methodist Church has long been involved in providing settings where 12-step and other recovery groups can meet, with thousands of United Methodist congregations offering support for those who need help.
In the case of "Home Run," United Methodists even played an important part in the movie's production. Several scenes in the movie were filmed at New Haven and West Tulsa United Methodist churches in Oklahoma.
Home Run's co-producer, Carol Spann Matthews of Tulsa, Okla., said she became a Christian while taking part in the Methodist Youth Fellowship at Tulsa-New Haven UMC, and chose to shoot several scenes for the movie at her childhood church. Tulsa-New Haven's sanctuary was the setting for a scene that featured testimonials, and a small group meeting was filmed in one of the church's Sunday school classrooms.
Matthews said the movie "is for anyone, inside or outside the church, who needs to make a change in their life."
"My hope is that it will speak to those who are struggling with addiction and give them hope," said the Rev. Cindy Havlik of Tulsa-New Haven UMC.
A growing number of United Methodist churches offer a well-known recovery ministry featured in the movie -- Celebrate Recovery, a real life addiction recovery program that grew-out of California's Saddleback Church. Founded in 1991, Celebrate Recovery helps people overcome life's issues with a twelve-step program based on Christian principles.
Many Christian leaders are praising "Home Run," which stars Scott Elrod as the bigheaded big league player who strikes out because of his addiction gone-wild. Vivica A. Fox stars as Brand's agent, who hopes to save his career.
The Rev. Wes Olds, pastor of the Cape Coral Campus of Grace United Methodist Church, is encouraging Celebrate Recovery participants who meet at the Florida church to invite a friend to join them for dinner and a movie.
Grace United Methodist offers recovery ministries, including Celebrate Recovery, at each of their four campuses. They currently reach out to over 400 people seeking help for their addictions.
"We want to meet people at the place of their greatest need," Olds said. "Celebrate Recovery is one way to do that."
For a directory of United Methodist Churches offering recovery programs or support groups, go to umc.org/recoveryministries.
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