The United Methodist Church says its connection to the movie "Home Run" that premieres this weekend runs deep, both in its support of Christ-centered 12-step and recovery group ministries and the film producers' use of member churches for locations.
"A growing number of United Methodist churches offer a well-known recovery ministry featured in the movie – Celebrate Recovery, a real-life addiction recovery program that grew out of California's Saddleback Church," stated the UMC public information office.
"In the case of 'Home Run,' United Methodists even played an important part in the movie's production," UMC officials said. "Several scenes in the movie were filmed at New Haven and West Tulsa United Methodist churches in Oklahoma."
"Home Run" is a movie about addiction – a story of pro baseball player whose life spirals out of control due to ego and alcohol. The recovery program used as reference in the movie is Celebrate Recovery, a ministry founded by Saddleback Church Pastor John Baker and supported by the church's lead pastor Rick Warren.
Christian psychologist and author Dr. John Townsend, an expert on Christ-centered recovery for mental and emotional health issues, recently spoke at Saddleback Church during weekend services on the subject of recovery. He showed clips from the movie in order to help illustrate his points that everyone needs recovery, not just the addict or the alcoholic, he said. Townsend told The Christian Post that he wanted people to get an idea of how the process works based on what the main character in the movie goes through.
In the movie, Cory Brand is a highly ranked player whose drinking problem begins to affect his career. Suspended from the team, Brand is court-ordered to attend a recovery program. He returns to the small town he grew up in, learns the only 12-step type group is Celebrate Recovery, and begins to coach a youth baseball team. There, he rediscovers the joy of the game and his faith in God.
"Home Run's" co-producer, Carol Spann Matthews of Tulsa, Okla., said she became a Christian while taking part in the Methodist Youth Fellowship at Tulsa-New Haven UMC, and chose to shoot several scenes for the movie at her childhood church. Tulsa-New Haven's sanctuary was the setting for a scene that featured testimonials, and a small group meeting was filmed in one of the church's Sunday school classrooms.
Matthews said the movie "is for anyone, inside or outside the church, who needs to make a change in their life."
The Rev. Cindy Havlik of Tulsa-New Haven UMC said, "My hope is that it will speak to those who are struggling with addiction and give them hope."
The Rev. Wes Olds, pastor of the Cape Coral Campus of Grace United Methodist Church, is encouraging Celebrate Recovery participants who meet at the Florida church to invite a friend to join them for dinner and a movie.
"We want to meet people at the place of their greatest need," Olds said. "Celebrate Recovery is one way to do that."
Grace United Methodist offers recovery ministries, including Celebrate Recovery, at each of their four campuses. They currently reach out to over 400 people seeking help for their addictions.
"More than ever, faith-based organizations are taking on addiction issues and offering ministries that offer Christ-centered care," UMC officials said. "The United Methodist Church has long been involved in providing settings where 12-step and other recovery groups can meet, with thousands of United Methodist congregations offering support for those who need help."
For a directory of United Methodist Churches offering recovery programs or support groups, go to umc.org/recoveryministries.
Celebrate Recovery on the Web: http://www.celebraterecovery.com.