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Columbia church rents theater for 'Fireproof' showing

Tuesday, March 24, 2009 | 10:40 p.m. CDT; updated 8:21 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, March 25, 2009

COLUMBIA — What some members of the clergy like about the movie "Fireproof" is that even though it is a movie about marriage, it's not just for married couples.

Pastor Tom Ragsdell of New Life Community Church in Columbia said that what he likes about the film is that it shows a couple after the fairy-tale ending that is depicted in most Hollywood films, as well as the work involved in sustaining a marriage.

The church will show the film at 9 a.m. Sunday at Forum 8 Theater. Tickets are available at no charge by calling 445-4900.

The movie stars Kirk Cameron of “Growing Pains” as firefighter Caleb Holt. He and his wife, Catherine, find themselves drifting apart at the beginning of the film.  Caleb informs his father that the couple will be divorcing. Caleb's father urges him to  “The Love Dare,” which is a 40-day challenge of showing his love for Catherine. 

"Everyone wants to live happily ever after, but working it out is a whole other matter," said Ragsdell.

Ragsdell said that singles can benefit from watching the movie, too. The movie is about more than marriage, he said, citing Caleb's changing relationship with his parents as an example. 

Building better relationships is one of the reasons the church felt strongly about offering the movie to the community. Ragsdell said the church is focusing on building lasting relationships, and the movie emphasizes that point.

While Pastor David Reese of the First Assembly of God Church in Moberly has only shown the film to married couples so far, he sees potential for other audiences. Reese said that anyone thinking about marriage or trying to help a couple in a difficult marriage can relate to themes in the movie.

"The creators of 'Fireproof' really take you inside the life of this couple realistically," said Reese.

Reese, who has been married and a minister for 25 years, said that he and his wife provide marriage counseling through their church. They have noticed an increase in the number of couples divorcing or seeking marriage counseling in that time. Reese said that the movie provides a real answer to relationship problems: a strong faith in Jesus Christ.

"Fireproof" was created by Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Ga., and released nationally in September 2008. It never played at theaters in Columbia. According to its Web site, “3,226 marriages have been ignited by Fireproof ," at the time of publication.

New Life Community Church spent between $500 and $700 on purchasing the site license for the film, renting the theater and buying support materials for small group studies, some of which are based on "The Love Dare" from the film.

Forum 8 management said that a church rents out the theater about once every two months. In addition to the theater showing of "Fireproof," the church rented a second theater for children to watch a Focus on the Family Adventures in Odyssey film.

Joyce Curtis at His Place Christian Bookstore said that groups have watched the movie in the bookstore and bought the book that complements the movie. She said the store has sold about 30 to 40 books and about seven or eight DVDs.

After showing the movie on Feb. 13, Reese said that his church has been circulating the movie for couples and that they have received positive feedback from participants.


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