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Methodist churches begin hosting monthly faith-based movie nights

DANNEMORA The Rev. Tim Atwater, pastor of Dannemora and Ellenburg United Methodist churches, hosted his first faith-based movie night in the fellowship hall at the Dannemora church Oct. 19. The Rev. Atwater, who is relatively new to the area and to the pastorate, decided hosting faith-based movie nights would be a good way to relax and have fun with a purpose. In this series of movies, I hope we will see Jesus and the gospel through many different lenses, and the church through many different lenses, said the Rev. Atwater, who took his present position about a year ago, after his first pastorate, a four-year position in Vermont. When we watch movies like these together, it helps us clarify our thoughts. The pastor chose Brother Sun, Sister Moon, a film about the first half of St. Francis of Assisis life, as the movie for October. It was filmed in 1973 in Northern Italy, during the time the Rev. Atwaters sister Annie was attending college there. She is an extra in one of the crowd scenes. He chose the film for this month because St. Francis was born in the month of October in the late 1100s. As a youth, Francis was an unlikely candidate for sainthood. He was a handsome, rich kid, who struggled with irresponsibility and enjoyed partying with his friends. He joined the Italian army in search of adventure rather than war. Shortly after returning home in 1207, he experienced several revelations from God, and he dedicated his life to Christian service. He believed he was commissioned to preach the kingdom of heaven to the masses and to live a life of humble service, owning nothing. Much to his fathers disapproval, Francis embarked on his new life and gave away everything he owned, including the clothes on his back. Francis life had a huge impact. Keep in mind that during Frances lifetime, many priests dressed lavishly while the poor struggled to stay clothed. Also, monks lived solitary lives, while Francis and his followers mingled daily with the masses, preaching the gospel, and caring for the poor and sick, especially the lepers. Franciss words, Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary use words, are still widely quoted today. I grew up in the 60s, commented the Rev. Atwater during the discussion time following the movie. I was attracted to the audacity in saying Hey, lets love God and do the gospel like Jesus did. The movie also showed the influence Francis had on Clara dei Sciffi, a beautiful, wealthy 18-year-old girl who decided to live a life like Francis. In 1212, she formed the second order of St. Francis. Clara influenced nuns to leave seclusion in the same way Francis had influenced the monks. Largely due to her influence, by the end of the 1200s, there were about as many nuns as there were monks. Both of the religious orders started by Francis and Clara are still in existence today. Next months movie will be The Cotton Patch Gospels, based on Clarence Jordans translation of the gospel into southern vernacular. It is witty, but faithful to the gospel, the Rev. Atwater commented. Those interested in future dates and movie titles can contact the Rev. Atwater by calling 492-7062 or 594-3270. Movie nights, which are being held at both the Dannemora United Methodist Church, 86 Clark St., and the Ellenburg United Methodist Church, 5614 State Route 11, Ellenburg, are open to the public.

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