The “Arts” section of the New York Times is not where you’d usually expect to see a story focusing on the ministry of an EPC (Evangelical Presbyterian Church) congregation — let alone one located in a Midwestern, “flyover” state like Missouri.
But that is exactly what I took delight in reading about in this Sunday’s edition. In the article, “Crossing a Divide, Seeking Good: The unusual bond between a film festival and a church,” journalist Lauren Sandler writes about this unusual partnership between The Crossing church and a film festival led by a “secular Jew.”
Here is an excerpt:
As he does every year, David Wilson recently faced a decision about which documentary film to honor with a major prize in the True/False Film Fest, which he co-directs. And as he does each year, he reached out to Dave Cover, a founding pastor of the Crossing, a 4,000-member Evangelical Presbyterian church in Columbia, Mo., to set up a screening of a candidate.
They met, along with the pastor’s staff, in the church’s high-tech audiovisual room. Mr. Wilson, a secular Jew who says he is very skeptical about American Christian culture, cued up “Private Violence,” a documentary on domestic abuse, and nervously awaited a verdict.
It’s an unusual situation for a festival director to be in, not to mention a pastor. For the last several years, The Crossing has sponsored the festival’s True Life Fund, which awards financial support, sometimes upward of $30,000, to subjects of documentaries — not the filmmakers, who customarily receive the awards. Then again, it’s an unusual marriage.
Dave Cover, pastor of The Crossing, looks a bit like Tim Keller and preaches 45-minute expositional sermons (currently going through the book of Exodus). In other words, The Crossing is not some nouveau hipster church desperately seeking to be liked by the cool kids. Not so much about being fashionable or trendy, this church’s alliance with a film festival seems like ministry in the tradition of Francis Schaeffer.
To come back around to my initial observation — you never know what you will discover in the “Arts” section of the New York Times. This piece served up a slice of explanation of the Gospel story:
The 14-year-old church’s doctrine affirms Biblical literalism and discipleship. Mr. Cover preaches what filmmakers might see as a three-act narrative in the Bible: first the story of creation, then the fall of humanity, and finally, the tragedy of wanting things rather than God. Talk to Mr. Cover’s parishioners, and you’ll hear his notion repeated verbatim. Mr. Cover articulates an evangelical message familiar to this generation’s culturally savvy churchgoers. “We don’t want to be behind a castle wall, have a moat, go out by twos to witness,” he said. “We wanted to enter the culture as people who found ways to tell the story.”