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Hagerstown church reaches out to community with Travis film

January 28, 2008|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI

The audience sat in the darkness, eyes glued to the film showing on the big screen. Instead of neon exit signs flanking the screen, there was a large cross. And where one might have expected a nondescript blanket of blackness above, a balcony rimmed the looming cathedral ceilings with dangling circular chandeliers.

A crowd of more than 160 people graced the seats of Grace United Methodist Church in Hagerstown Saturday evening to see "The Wager," a major motion picture release from Pure Flix Entertainment starring Randy Travis.

Travis and his wife, Elizabeth Travis, are managing partners with Pure Flix, a company that manufactures, sells and globally distributes family and faith-based films.

Pure Flix released the film Dec. 31 using a direct-to-church platform. For approximately $300, Grace United Methodist received an official licensed version of the film on DVD and a three-month license for unlimited showings.

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Grace United Methodist Interim Pastor David Brosnan said the church is the only one with rights to show the film in the 21740 ZIP code area.

"We invited folks from all over, from a lot of different churches. We are using it as outreach, certainly to the community in the west end (of Hagerstown), but not limited to that," Brosnan said.

Viewers were not charged a fee, but could offer a donation.

"The Wager," rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America, has an official release date of April 25. In the film, the main character, Michael, played by Randy Travis, finds himself the object of a supernatural wager between God and Satan that threatens his reputation, career and marriage.

"It asks the question, if a person is tempted enough, if he loses enough, will his faith still be strong enough to withstand the shock?" Brosnan said.

Gary Clever, 42, of Sharpsburg, took eight members of the youth group at his church, Virginia Avenue Church of God, to see the film.

"We enjoyed it because we have been studying about the full armor of God. (The main character) was struggling when he relied on his own judgment instead of relying on the Holy Spirit to work in his life," Clever said.

Bud Kline of Hagerstown said he is not a regular churchgoer, but he enjoyed the film so much that he bought a DVD to share with his children and grandchildren.

"Randy Travis is a good actor, entertainer," Kline said.

Charles and Marlene Souders of Maugansville, members of Grace United Methodist, invited their neighbor Judy Bowers to the showing.

"It gives you something to think about," Bowers said. "(The main character) really had a hard time with himself, with his demons, I guess."

Judy McFarland, 61, of Lancaster, Pa., was scheduled to come to Hagerstown Sunday. Her sister Linda Reese, 55, of Martinsburg, W.Va., heard about the film showing Saturday and suggested Judy come to the area a day early to see it.

"There is so much negativity in the movies. It's good to see good Christian films," McFarland said.

Jacob Swope, 14, of Williamsport, said he thought the film was good.

"It made a point that no matter how bad things can go, God's always with you," Swope said.

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