Local News

'Passion' May Benefit Churches As Well As Box Office

Posted April 12, 2004

— Mel Gibson's hit movie, "The Passion of the Christ," could be packing church pews as well as movie theatres.

A Catholic archbishop in Australia praised the film over the Easter weekend for its influence on churchgoers. Members at a local church agree with its impact and approach.

Calvary Chapel Cary took Easter out of the church and onto the fairgrounds.

"Going to the fairgrounds just says: 'Hey this is for everybody,'" Pastor Rodney Finch said.

Though the mode of delivery may have been a little different, the message still was the same.

"The resurrection of Jesus Christ," Finch said.

Said church member Jan Jordan: "For Christians, that means everything."

Just as Finch said people may be more comfortable coming to a service at the fairgrounds, they also may be more comfortable seeing a movie. That is why "The Passion Of The Christ" is being credited for boosting attendance at Easter services everywhere this year.

Gibson's bloody depiction of the final hours of the life of Christ topped the box office over Easter weekend, taking in an estimated $17.1 million.

Finch said Christ's suffering was "perfectly portrayed" by Gibson.

The film has made $340 million in six weeks. But the real success in these circles is the conversation generated.

"Certainly, it's the buzz," Jordan said. "Wherever you go, people are talking about this."

Said Associate Paster Stephen Harris: "It gets people talking about God."

Finch said that, "in terms of Easter Sunday, it couldn't be more perfect."

"Easter at the Fairgrounds" is an annual event. The church estimates 1,500 to 1,800 people attended the service Sunday morning.

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