All Saints tells the true story of Pastor Michael Spurlock (John Corbett) and the community of All Saints Episcopal Church in Smyrna, Tennessee. With the church on the verge of closing, Myanmar refugees gave the pastor and the tiny community, not only a chance to show true Christian care, but also a way to save the church.
Corbett (Northern Exposure, My Big Fat Greek Wedding), with his folksy charm, is perfect as Spurlock, a corporate salesman turned ordained minister, who is sent to All Saints with his wife, Aimee (Cara Buono) and son, Atticus (Myles Moore). Spurlock assures his son they won’t be there more than two months. His mission: inventory the church property and show potential buyers around.
Things change when Ye Win (Nelson Lee) knocks on his door asking for help feeding a group of refugees from Myanmar (Burma). They are the Karen (pronounced kuh-REN) people displaced by civil war. Conflicted at first since the church was broke, it didn’t take long for Spurlock to help, offering food and finding jobs. When he noticed the Karen picking at the soil around the church he found out they had been farmers.
On an evening walk, Spurlock gets caught in the rain. Next thing you know, he’s telling Aimee that God spoke to him. He’s been inspired with a way to save the church: turn their land into a farm. The produce would not only feed the refugees but it would help pay their mortgage.
Appealing to the town council, Spurlock gets no help except from Owen (John Newburg), who grew up attending All Saints. Owen donates materials and time. Soon both the original church members and the Karen have crops planted. Then, setback after setback afflicts the farming efforts.
It’s not much of a spoiler to say that things work out in the end. After all, the movie got made. The film keeps the suspense going while at the same time providing a good example of prayer and discernment as the pastor wonders whether or not it really was God’s voice he heard or if it was his own ego speaking. In the end, the most important thing that grew on the farm was the community.
Even though the story behind All Saints didn’t take place at a Catholic Church, the story embodies all of the themes of Catholic Social Teaching, most especially the second: the call to family, community, and participation. The pastor and his family, the All Saints community (both American and Karen), all participated in the project to keep the church for the good of the entire community. The community at large also gave in so many ways to help the struggling little church and the people it served. What an example they provide for all people of good will.