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Fathers to be focus of next Sherwood film

Photo by Casey Dixon

Photo by Casey Dixon

ALBANY -- They've chronicled husbands and fathers in their three previous films, but their fourth project will follow four fathers.

Sherwood Baptist Church's leadership team of Senior Pastor Michael Catt, Executive Pastor Jim McBride and ministers Alex and Stephen Kendrick announced at a Sunday night service of more than 500 people the title and plot of the church's fourth movie.

The Kendrick brothers, who write the screenplays, told the crowd the movie would be called "Courageous," the first film from the church that wouldn't start with "F." "Flywheel" was the church's first movie in 2003, followed by "Facing the Giants" in 2006 and "Fireproof" in 2008. The movies have combined to make more than $43 million, with the Kirk Cameron-led "Fireproof" earning $33 million and becoming the top independent film last year.

Alex Kendrick said "Courageous" will feature gangs and corruption, although all the dialogue will be appropriate for church audiences. The four fathers -- who protect and serve together -- go through a terrible tragedy.

"They begin looking at their role as fathers ... and they begin challenging one another to fulfill God's intention for fathers," he said.

"It is our desire that men will walk out of the theater (asking) what kind of father I am," Kendrick told the crowd. "But, guys, this movie will be controversial. Are we (going to) back down from what we need to do? No way."

Kendrick said the movie's action promises to be some of the most intense the church has yet to film. Like its other movies, it will include action, drama and humor. He also said the movie script is still in the process of being written. The movie will begin principal photography in March.

He also told the crowd that some people in the Albany community and around the country would not like the film to be made.

"People are trying to stop us," he said at the end of the 16-minute presentation. "Will you pray with us? And, will you pray with us courageously?"

Provident Films and Affirm Films, a division of Sony Picture Home Entertainment, will continue their relationship with the Sherwood movie ministry department to do the marketing and distribution for fourth Sherwood film.

After the presentation, Catt brought up sister church pastor Daniel Simmons of Mount Zion Baptist Church to pray over the leadership team of Catt, McBride and the Kendricks for guidance in the coming months. Sherwood deacons and women of the church laid their hands on the men as they kneeled at the front of the church.

"We know you are the major partner in this team and (we are thankful for) what you've already done," Simmons prayed. "We pray for your blessing on this movie. We pray for men who will stand up and be fathers. I pray for a mighty awakening. I pray as word of this movie goes out that the right people will come to the casting and that there will be no accident."

The crowd at the presentation included media representatives and employees of Christian businesses from around the country. This included members of HomeLife and Baptist Press, both of Nashville; Christian Broadcasting Network of Virginia Beach, Va.; Billy Graham Evangelical Association of Boone, N.C.; Charisma of Lake Mary, Fla.; Focus on the Family of Colorado Springs, Colo.; The Christian Post of Washington, D.C.; The Dove Foundation of Grand Rapids, Mich.; and American Family Association of Tupelo, Miss.

The large group was bused around town Sunday to see the 82-acre Sherwood Sports Park, which has been largely funded through the commercial success of the films. McBride told the group that the sports park is schuduled to be completed next fall.

"It sounds great," Sherwood member Eillean McGilberry said of the movie's plot after the announcement. "I can't wait because we need that in this world; in Albany and all the world."

McGilberry's husband, Stanley, agreed. The couple have three grown children and have been married 23-1/2 years.

"It's very well needed," he said. "As a father, I feel it's needed because there's not enough fathers in this world standing up being fathers for God."

Sherwood Christian Academy senior Robert Wilson said the movie will likely appeal to people his age as well. Robert was with his father and grandfather at the announcement.

"I think it'll impact the youth because not all the youth have fathers and it'll show them how they can be a father to their children," Wilson said.

Some 24.7 million children (36 percent) live in the United States without their biological father, according to press material.