Memphis church film engages community

By Mark Hodge

Calvary Church, a congregation of 500, tells a story of forgiveness.

Can people look past their differences and help one another? A film titled The Grace Card offers an answer. The movie, which opened nationally in February last year, tells the story of two officers from the Memphis Police Department and their journey from conflict to forgiveness.

The Grace Card was produced by Calvary Church in Cordova, TN, in association with Graceworks Pictures, a Memphis production company. It was a practical extension of the vision of our lead pastor, Lynn Holmes, for Calvary Church to be an authentic community.

The inspiration to venture into filmmaking could be credited to Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, GA. After attending a showing of Sherwood’s movie, Fireproof, in fall of 2008, Dr. David Evans, a Memphis optometrist, began to dream about the potential for Calvary Church to produce its own faith-based film. The Grace Card is our first film project, but having produced a live, full-scale multimedia Easter presentation in the Memphis community for 15 years, we had a base of creativity and experience to support the idea.

Locals in auditions
After God confirmed the project, we began planning in January 2009 and held acting auditions in April 2009. Filming was completed in November 2009. After the initial edits, professional screenwriter Howie Klausner (Space Cowboys) further developed the screenplay.

Calvary Church members and volunteers were involved at almost every level of the production, and several major areas. Actor/comedian Michael Joiner, local Memphian Michael Higgenbottom, and veteran actor Louis Gossett Jr. were joined by Calvary’s own Joy Parmer Moore, Cindy Holmes Hodge and Rob Erickson. More than 50 Memphis churches were represented at the acting auditions. Only two members of the entire cast received remuneration.

The Grace Card was shot entirely in Memphis, with the full cooperation of the Memphis Police Department. Saint Francis Hospital gave us unlimited access to an entire floor of their facility. Local restaurants provided free meals for our crew during shooting, and several churches assisted with snacks, drinks and manpower. Financing of the movie was made possible when Dr. David and Esther Evans borrowed against their business to provide some $500,000 so we could move forward. We were also able to share the premiere of the film with the Memphis community at The Orpheum, a historic theater in downtown Memphis.

International impact
The team at Affirm Films, a division of Sony, and Provident Films, led us through much of the post-production and helped us market the film. The Grace Card is now available on DVD and has a coordinating small group curriculum and devotional book.

The movie has been translated into several languages and released internationally. We continue to hear stories of healing and transformation from all around the globe. The Grace Card has given us the opportunity to demonstrate to our city that we are genuine and passionate as we answer the challenges of a diverse culture. We are considering more film opportunities and outreach to the Memphis community and beyond.

Mark Hodge is pastor of worship at Calvary Church in Cordova, TN. More information about The Grace Card is available at


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