Friday, July 16, 2010


Saturday is the day to leave for Wesley The Movie

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Tinney Chapel Will Caravan to Dallas' Lakewood Theater
For special one-day-only showing of
Wesley The Movie, Saturday, July 17.

If you would like to be a part of something very special, the Tinney Chapel UMC caravan to see Wesley The Movie, then show up tomorrow, Saturday, July 17, at the church at 9 am for the car pool caravan to Dallas & the Lakewood Theater. This assumes you either have a ticket in hand, on reservation or that the showing is not a sellout and that you may be able to get a ticket on site at the Lakewood. There is a second showing Saturday evening, at 7 pm.

The car-pool caravan leaves Saturday, July 17, in time to arrive in Dallas for lunch (no later than noonish) at the Dixie House (near the Lakewood) before the 2 pm matinee showing at the Lakewood, located at 1825 Abrams Parkway.

But this is a one-day only event, and seating is limited, so call now if you don't already have a ticket or a reservation. This may be the only chance any of us will get to see the movie on a big theater screen.

This is a full-length movie, based on the private journals of John Wesley, founder of Methodism. Below are some comments from Circuit Rider Review:


MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Runtime: 1 hour, 50 minutes
Directed by: John Jackman

Reviewed by Matthew L. Kelley, pastor of Bethlehem United Methodist Church in Clarksville, Tenn.

John Jackman’s new “Wesley” biopic depicts the life of Methodism’s founder from his early days at Oxford through his unsuccessful mission to the Georgia colony, and the growth of the Methodist movement back in England. These three eras in Wesley’s life show the three “rises of Methodism,” as Wesley later termed them in his journals, which makes sense because the writers and producers of the film consulted John and Charles Wesley’s journals very closely throughout the production.

Previous attempts to put Wesley’s life on film have often strayed into hagiography, depicting Wesley as an otherworldly saint who never made mistakes and was free of emotion or struggle. Not so with this film. John Wesley (Burgess Jenkins), while remaining a very proper British cleric, is passionate about his faith and struggles mightily with how to live it out. This passion often leads him to doubt himself, make mistakes, and find himself in conflict with others, but it also leads him to make some bold and unorthodox choices to include those who were left out by the church establishment. In other words, “Wesley” gives fantastic insight into the man who would shape the face of Protestant Christianity for centuries to come.

The film begins with a flashback to Wesley’s childhood and the Epworth rectory fire, an experience that convinced John that God had something special planned for his life. We also see Susanna Wesley (June Lockhart, of “Lassie” fame) instructing her children in the faith and forming strict habits that would last throughout their lives.

A significant amount of time is devoted to John’s experience and struggles in the Georgia colony. He also grows in his appreciation for the virtues of the Native Americans, who he observes living very Christian lives even though they know very little Christian doctrine.

When John Wesley returns to England, he feels like a failure, even though Peter Boehler (Bill Oberst, Jr.) and others try to cheer him up and assure him that God truly is with him. In portraying Wesley’s Aldersgate experience, the filmmakers are careful to show that Wesley received an assurance of salvation, and not portraying it as a conversion experience. Anyone familiar with Wesleyan history and theology will be extremely grateful for this.

The rest of the film shows John Wesley growing bolder and going outside the box more often as the Methodist revival grows. No Wesley film would be complete without seeing him “resolve to be more vile,” as he put it, going out to preach in the fields to those outside the established church, and, of course, the scene where he tells an angry bishop that “the world is my parish.”

Wesleyan theologians may be disappointed by the scene where John systematically lays out the “Quadrilateral” of scripture, tradition, reason, and experience. Wesley himself never formalized his methodology that way; this framework was theorized in the twentieth century by Albert Outler. If one can put the historical fiction aside for a moment, however, they can appreciate how the scene demonstrates how Wesley was an innovator and a fantastic model for practical theological dialogue in our day.

While “Wesley” may not achieve the box office success of a summer blockbuster, it is a great film for church groups. There are a number of well done scenes that serve as launching points for discussion about things that make Methodism unique, both in theology and practice. It would be especially useful in a confirmation or new member class setting.

Learn more about this film at

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