Even before Sherwood Baptist Church’s latest film, “Courageous,” earned $21 million at the box office, its senior pastor gave a check for $100,000 on behalf of the church to support some 5,000 missionaries worldwide.
Wendy Norvelle, spokesperson for the Southern Baptist Convention’s International Mission Board (IMB), told The Christian Post Wednesday that the check was given during “our annual staff retreat where our staff gathers for a time of renewal. Dr. Michael Catt was leading Bible studies and his worship team came to lead us in music.”
During that September retreat in Virginia, Catt, senior pastor of Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Ga., presented Tom Elliff, IMB president, with a book about missionaries printed by the Church of England in 1899. Inside the book was a check for $100,000.
She said the reaction was immediate; there were “spontaneous gasp of appreciation and applause, the whole room stood to their feet.” Catt told those in attendance the church prayed to use the resources from their films to further the cause of the kingdom.
Sherwood’s donation will go towards supporting almost 5,000 Southern Baptist missionaries serving overseas. Norvelle said 100 percent of the money will go towards “keeping our missionary personnel in the field.”
“Courageous” is Sherwood church’s latest movie and was made with a budget of $2,000,000, small by Hollywood standards, but the church’s biggest movie budget to-date. On its opening weekend, the film grossed $9.1 million. The film had the best opening of all new movies released that weekend, beating out “The Lion King 3D,” “Moneyball,” “Dolphin Tale” and “Drive.”
As of Oct. 17, 2011, the film had grossed $21,561,202. However, only a small fraction of this revenue is true profit. The church receives only a portion of it. Most of the gross profit goes to theatre owners and Sony Pictures, the church’s film partner.
To date, Sherwood Pictures, a ministry of Sherwood Baptist Church, has put out four movies, filmed mostly in the Albany area. The highest grossing independent film of 2008 was the church’s movie “Fireproof.”
Alex Kendrick, associate pastor of media for Sherwood Baptist Church, founded the company in 2002 with $20,000 in donations. The movie ministry uses volunteers from the church as extras, and most of the actors worked for free.
The current film, “Courageous,” explores the role of fatherhood. It centers on a police force whose sheriff urges his deputies to spend time with their families. The film was directed by Kendrick, who co-wrote the screenplay with his brother, Stephen Kendrick.
Profits from Sherwood Baptist Church’s films go toward supporting ministries and the Albany community. The church has used part of its movie proceeds to build an 82 acre sports park in their Albany community.
“Funds that come through both Sherwood Baptist Church and Sherwood Pictures help us fulfill our mission ‘To reach the world from Albany, Georgia.’ As a result, we’ve recently invested in ministries and families locally and around the world,” said Sherwood Baptist Church Executive Pastor Jim McBride to CP.