ecumenical film fest a hit in Oberlin
Oberlin slide show by Kathleen Cameron
Ohio, July 22, 2007 – More than a year ago a call went out to filmmakers
who may not have reflected on ecumenism before to produce short films on
the same issues facing those working for Christian unity. It was billed
as "the first ever Oikumene Film Festival to promote exploration of
visual media as a form of ecumenical expression."
Eight films were chosen for screening at this week's (July 19-23)
National Council of Churches (NCC) USA's Faith and Order Commission
conference, "On Being Christian Together."
At Friday night's screening, Dr. R. M. Keelan Downton, post-doctoral
fellow at NCC's Faith and Order Commission, acknowledged this was an
experiment to see what theologian-artists or artist-theologians might be
able to do in the video medium. The film festival was Downton’s idea.
His experience as a media intern at Ginghamsburg United Methodist Church
in Tipp City, Ohio, suggested there might be some contributors out there
looking for a place to share their work.
Several of the nearly 300 ecumenists at the conference attended the
screenings. Admittedly, most of those in the lecture hall/screening
room were from among the 100 college students, seminarians and doctoral
candidates attending the conference.
The younger crowd was delighted with a four-minute production, "One
Body, Many Parts," by Alice Rose. She introduced her film as being a
"community effort" of an upstate New York congregation (Christ United
Methodist Church, Troy, NY) using the Apostle Paul's description of the
Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12).
Employing many readers of different ages and genders the script is
Scripture only. It is familiar to Christians--the ear cannot be an eye,
the foot cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you," etc. As the
Bible is heard the audience is seeing images of human puppets costumed
as ears, eyes, nose, mouth or hands. The feet were two sneakers, one
blue and the other red, that fit completely over an adult body with only
the head protruding.
The choreography--dancing hands and moving feet--the editing, and Paul's
familiar words, all brought applause as the credits rolled by revealing
the filmmaker's description of "a community effort" to be something of
Another entry, "Nicea," was produced and directed Nick Lacy and David
Sanchez. Lacy said the two young men from California have now started a
video ministry to tell stories in this powerful medium. They attempted
to visually capture the divisions surrounding the Council of Nicea and
the impact of Emperor Constantine in the 4th century.
Another entry came from Arion M. Lillard, a seminary student at
Christian Theological Seminary in Indiana. Titled, "Contemplation of
Death," it was a one woman performance dealing with a life issue that
came up in Lillard's seminary training.
The name of the film festival, "Oikumene," was selected because of its
historic connection to the ecumenical movement. It is a Greek word
meaning, "the whole inhabited earth" that was used to describe ancient
Christian councils and gave rise in the late sixteenth century to the
English word "ecumenical" to refer to the worldwide Christian Church.
This connection is appropriate since the conference itself is a historic
occasion commemorating the birth of the modern U.S. Faith and Order
movement at Oberlin in 1957.
More information on NCC's Faith and Order work and on the Oberlin
conference may be found online at
NCC News contact: Dan