The movie "Home Run," opening in theaters April 19, draws on some Oklahoma United Methodist influences — especially in Tulsa, where the film was developed, shot, and produced.
"Home Run," rated PG-13, tells the story of Cory Brand, a struggling baseball star forced to return home and face old demons. Cory finds himself in the Christ-based Celebrate Recovery program.
The inspirational movie "is for anyone, inside or outside the church, who needs to make a change in their life," said co-producer Carol Spann Mathews of Tulsa, who described herself as "born-and-raised United Methodist."
Matthews said she became a Christian while taking part in the Methodist Youth Fellowship (MYF) of Tulsa-New Haven UMC. Her wedding was at Tulsa-First UMC. The couple’s youngest child attends a preschool program at Tulsa-Christ UMC.
When Matthews was a teen, other members of that New Haven MYF group were her sister and Ray Crawford. He now is senior pastor at Claremore-First UMC … and is Matthew’s brother-in-law.
Rev. Crawford is one of several UM leaders who previewed "Home Run."
"The human element is very engaging in the film. It starts conversations," Crawford said. And he agreed with a statement by his sister-in-law: "We all have stuff we need to be working on, and it helps to have a caring community" during that process.
Some scenes in the movie were filmed at New Haven and West Tulsa UMCs. Some United Methodists secured roles as "extras."
In yet another connection, a number of UM churches across the state offer Celebrate Recovery, as do other Christian communities.
CR attendance reaches into the hundreds at Asbury UMC, one of about two-dozen host sites in Tulsa. Glen Grusendorf directs the Asbury program, which launched in 2004. General meetings may draw more than 200 people, and more than 100 attend "step studies" during the week, he said.
Celebrate Recovery also is a ministry of Abiding Harvest UMC, Broken Arrow. Senior Pastor Chris Buskirk said, "So many people have experienced help through that. It’s a pathway for individuals to healing, and a lot of our newest members have come to us thru CR."
Rev. Buskirk encourages people to see "Home Run."
"If there’s a movie that can open our eyes and offer us hope, that’s a winner," he said. "We can take friends not part of the church and renew their hope. Just taking a friend to that movie is in itself an act of ministry."
(Part of this story is reprinted with permission from Asbury Tidings magazine.)