(Photo: John David Ware)
LOS ANGELES – More than 400 guests attended an Academy Awards show viewing party co-hosted by a collaboration of more than a half-dozen different Christian-based ministries at Bel Air Presbyterian Church on Sunday evening. All the ministries are focused on helping believers make an impact through their work in the entertainment industry – especially in the tough arena of Hollywood.
"God tells us that when two or more are gathered in His name then He is there," Karen Covell, founder of the Hollywood Prayer Network, told The Christian Post. HPN was one of the ministries helping with the event that featured a live broadcast of the Oscars shown on several big screens inside the church, food, prizes, and short discussions about faith in the industry during the commercials.
"Our goal as Christian professionals in Hollywood is to use our gifts and talents in the secular entertainment industry, along with ministering to the creative community, both by loving and sharing our faith with our co-workers who don't yet know Jesus and to build up, encourage and pray for our Christian friends and associates," Covell explained. "That won't happen unless we gather together, break bread together, build unity and have fun together."
She said the viewing party "served all of those purposes."
"It brought our community together to build and strengthen friendships, it allowed us to invite friends and co-workers who haven't yet experienced a loving community to join us and God's presence and it allowed us to celebrate the people in our workplace and our mission field."
HPN, which Covell founded 13 years ago, is a ministry devoted to praying for people having careers in all areas of the creative arts industry.
The lead group hosting the event was the Beacon Entertainment ministry of Bel Air Presbyterian Church. During the evening, a host from the church's ministry who also leads PRISM (Partnering to Reach the Industry of Stage and Media Arts), mentioned which actors were known to have engaged with the church or pursued faith in God some way.
Film and television producer Phil Cooke attended the gathering and wrote the blog post, "Should Churches Hold Oscar Parties?" published on Monday.
"Hollywood is ground zero when it comes to creating a global culture. As such, whether you like everything that comes out of Hollywood or not, Christians should be part of that conversation," Cooke wrote.
He listed four reasons churches should engage with the "Hollywood culture," including: "God is working in Hollywood, whether you approve or not. Thousands of committed Christians are working inside Hollywood to impact the industry in a positive way. One director of a dramatic, episodic series told me: 'I don't make a big deal about being a Christian, but it's interesting that when anyone on my crew is struggling with a divorce, alcoholism, wrestling with their purpose in life, or simply having a bad day, it's amazing how they seem to find their way to me.'"
Actress Carmi Fellwock, who also attended the event, told CP that it was a great opportunity for Christians in the entertainment industry to come together, not only as having a similar identity in Christ, but in the passion that God has given them for media.
"An event like this is very important and much needed for the body of Christ. Sometimes as believers we lose sight of the most important thing of our faith, both the personal and the corporate relationship with our Lord," she said. "Every believer has different opinions, different likes and different perceptions of which film, which director, which actor was the best, but that the art and the medium regardless of the biblical content of it, are still God's and all Christians have a gift and place in it, either to raise it in quality as professional filmmakers or to impact it theologically."
"Hollywood's Big Night" event host ministries on the Web
Hollywood Prayer Network: http://www.hollywoodprayernetwork.org
Act One: http://www.actoneprogram.com
168 Film Project: http://www.168film.com
Christian Women in Media Association: http://www.cwima.org
Media Fellowship International: http://www.mediafellowship.org