Fishers church to host MLK Day movie event, conversation


Christ the Savior Lutheran Church, at 10500 E. 126th St. in Fishers, will host its 40th Anniversary Film Festival beginning Jan. 16. 

The first of five documentary films for the “Prophetic Voices” series is “Backs Against the Wall: The Howard Thurman Story,” directed by Martin Doblmeier. The movie documents the life of Thurman, a religious figure of the 20th century.

Born the grandson of slaves, Thurman became a “spiritual foundation” for the Civil Rights Movement, inspiring many of its leaders, including Martin Luther King Jr., Jesse Jackson and Congressman John Lewis.

In the mid-1930s, Thurman was the first Black American invited to meet Mohandas Ghandi. After that, his mission was shaped by the nonviolent resistance movement. Thurman authored more than 20 books, was a celebrated preacher and worked to create the nation’s first interracial, intercultural church community. 

According to the Rev. Brian Derrer of Christ the Savior Lutheran Church, the film was chosen to begin the film series because of Thurman’s tie to Martin Luther King Jr. 

“‘Backs Against the Wall: The Howard Thurman Story’ was chosen to launch the series in conjunction with observing Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Day, as Thurman was a significant influence on Dr. King and the Civil Rights movement,” Derrer said. “It is said that King would regularly carry a copy of Thurman’s book ‘Jesus and the Disinherited’ with him when he traveled and spoke.”

Derrer said the film series’ theme of prophetic voices was chosen based on the influence of leaders with a specific religious platform. 

“The ‘Prophetic Voices’ series of documentary films was selected because each film features a 20th-century figure who had profound influence on the world, influenced by their faith,” Derrer said. Each month, January through May, one film and an accompanying opportunity for discussion will be offered at Christ the Savior Lutheran Church. All are open to the public and free of charge. Our deepest hope is that this film series serves as a catalyst for meaningful conversation about our times by reflecting on the impact of those who made a difference in the last century.

“People of all faiths, and no particular faith, are absolutely welcome to view the films and participate in the conversations.”

In February, the series will continue Feb. 23 with a viewing of “Bonhoeffer,” a film chronicling the life of Lutheran pastor and Nazi-resister Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Derrer said Bonhoeffer was an influential theologian who died age 39 in a concentration camp. 

Future installments of the film series will feature Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, Dorothy Day and Reinhold Niebuhr, all of whom have fascinating stories of impact, thought and passion, Derrer said.

Each film runs about an hour and attendees are invited to stay for 30 to 45 minutes of conversation following each screening. Popcorn and light refreshments will be available, as well as additional resources related to the featured person in each film and the impact they had.

The event will be from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Jan. 16 at Christ the Savior Lutheran Church.

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