Up Close and Personal: Documentary Reveals Transparent View of West Virginia Pastors
By Carl Stagner
At the pulpit. On screen. By the handshake at the door. Through the welcome in the hallway. Via the prayer of anointing at the altar. As a result of the pleasant smile in the lobby (foyer, narthex, vestibule). Surely, we’re at least somewhat familiar with our pastors. But isn’t it fascinating how the perspective from the pew doesn’t always tell the whole story? There’s so much more to our pastors than what parishioners see on Sunday morning, let alone what takes place exclusively on Sunday morning. Thankfully, one creative storyteller, whose seat otherwise takes in the view from the pew, recently captured on film the often unseen view from the pulpit, from behind the office desk, and from the “parsonage.”
Jacob Holmes attends Teays Valley Church of God in Scott Depot, West Virginia. By trade, he’s a cinematographer, one who tells stories with video. For about ten years, Jacob’s refined his craft, beginning as a freelancer but ultimately making the move to professional production. Just last June, he opened an LLC called Eagle Eye Productions, and has further fallen in love with filmmaking.
“I wanted to produce something that would help further the kingdom of God,” Jacob recalls, “but didn’t want to create [yet another] ‘Come to church!’ video, as there is a ton of that in the church these days. So, I thought it would be cool to see the things that pastors face outside of Sunday and Wednesday. They are, after all, a part of our best days—weddings, funerals, baptisms—and our worst days—funerals, relapses, disasters. I assumed that came with a lot of mental stress, so I thought it would be a great film to have and give transparency to the pastoral calling.”
Through the filming and post-production processes, what he saw, heard, and learned confirmed his suspicions.
“Oftentimes, pastors are held to an impossible standard because of the nature of their profession,” Jacob explains. “Love, grace, patience, and perfection are all associated with our faith, and if a pastor does anything human, they get attacked or cast out for it, which isn’t fair. My hope is that, after watching this documentary, those inside and outside of the church can show a little more grace. They are just people.”
With help from his pastor, Melissa Pratt, Jacob identified several area pastors, some inside the Church of God movement and some not, who would represent well the reality of the pastoral calling, far beyond the notoriety and poise of the public platform.
The cast of Called: For Such a Time as This includes Melissa Pratt of Teays Valley Church of God, Mitchell Burch of Buffalo Church of God, Jennie Lawrence of Trinity Church of God, Scott Beha of Southridge Church, Jamie Wright of Grace Life Church, and Rob Lauketer of Peoples Community Church. A premiere of the film will take place in person at Teays Valley Church of God in Scott Depot, West Virginia, on Friday, June 2 at 6:00 PM EDT. Tickets are $10 for the onsite showing of the film, co-produced by Pastor Melissa Pratt.
Of course, not everyone interested in this groundbreaking film will be in close proximity to Teays Valley Church of God for the premiere. Thankfully, a virtual option at 8:00 PM EDT that day will also be available with the online advance purchase of $10 tickets. A private link will be sent to purchasers, and will be available for viewing after the event for those who cannot watch at time of release (be sure to include email address for access).
“The process from planning and inspiration, all the way to the final edit, is such a gratifying process,” Jacob concludes about his craft. “I am able to make a story come alive on screen and evoke emotion in my audience. That is a beautiful thing, and I am so proud I am in this profession.”
Watch the documentary on YouTube at https://youtu.be/Ueh5EdE58ao. The project was self-funded and relies on support from viewers like you at https://www.eagleeyeprods.com/help-us-make-our-next-film. Follow Jacob Holmes and Eagle Eye Productions on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/EagleEyeWV/.