SMYRNA, Tenn. (OSBORNE) -- A movie debuted this week that highlights the story of a mid-state church and the Southeast Asian refugees who helped keeps its doors open.
The movie “All Saints” revolves around the work of minister Michael Spurlock and the All Saints Episcopal Church located in Smyrna on Lee Victory Parkway.
By 2007, attendance at the church had fallen to about a dozen members. The Episcopal Diocese was on the verge of closing the church because members could no longer afford the mortgage on their building.
But the church’s fortune’s changed when a group of about 70 refugees from Burma were settled in the area. Burma (also called Myanmar) is a predominately Buddhist nation, but because of its British colonial background it has a minority population of persecuted Anglican Christians.
The Burmese refugees had been subsistence farmers prior to arriving in Tennessee and so were having trouble finding work. So they asked Pastor Spurlock if they could plant gardens on the land behind the church.
The gardens developed into a going commercial concern that not only kept the refugees fed, but kept the church from losing the property.
Pastor Spurlock is played in the film by actor John Corbett of “Northern Exposure” and “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” fame. It also stars well-known character actor Barry Corbin and Nelson Lee as refugee Ye Win.
The faith-based film has gotten generally favorable reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic.