As the seventh film in the popular science-fiction series "Star Wars" is set to premiere next month, First United Presbyterian Church in Wisconsin is preparing to host an event weeks earlier to explore what's common between Christianity and the film. Atheists are welcome, the church says.
The De Pere church will host "Star Wars: Faith & The Force" on Nov. 14, about a month before "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" premieres Dec. 18, according to the church's website.
"Today's culture produces many challenges for children and families. Come and discover how Christianity and Star Wars share similar strategies in helping young people discover, connect, and abide in God and the Force," the church says.
The full-day event will begin with a message, "Raising a Jedi: Spiritual Formation and the Force" by the pastor of the church, Rev. Luke Farwell.
"We want to include everybody as much as possible, and I think particularly in an effort to welcome people who may not identify themselves as Christian," Pastor Farwell told Press-Gazette. "We don't want this to be an event where people think that just because they're not Christian they're not welcomed. We want people to come and enjoy all of the events — Ewoks, Wookiees, atheists, Christians, seekers, you name it."
"We looked at this as a way to take the contemporary pop culture and bring Christianity into that," Dawn Picard, an event coordinator, was quoted as saying. "All of us being 'Star Wars' fans have recognized there are so many parallels between 'Star Wars' and the Christian stories."
"We are connected to others in more ways than we can measure. We follow a tempo of life set by the rhythm of nature. That presence is called 'The Force' in the 'Star War' stories," the church says. "Spiritual traditions and modern neurobiology acknowledge its power. We will look at the practice of meditation and its personal benefits in this spirit filled exercise."
A discussion on "the Force" will be led by Rev. Dr. Wil Tabb, leader of the Pastoral Care program of Bellin Health.
A workshop will explore similarities between the "Star Wars" characters and Biblical characters.
Another one will talk about the wisdom of a Jedi. "Yoda is the great Jedi Master who all other Jedi must learn from. As 21st century Christians, we must find our 'Yoda' so that the power of the Lord of the Force may be strong is us. So who are the Christian Jedi Masters for us today?"
The event, which will have a "Star Wars"-themed worship, will feature a photo booth with "Star Wars" characters and games and quiz based on the film. "Visit a table and get a tattoo, create an alien, or design a pod racer."
Participants can also buy T-Shirts with the Faith and the Force logo.