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All Saints: History vs. Hollywood

Starring John Corbett, Cara Buono, Gregory Alan Williams | released in conjunction with the book 'All Saints' by Michael Spurlock and Jeanette Windle

John Corbett
Born: May 9, 1961
Wheeling, West Virginia, USA
Michael Spurlock
Born: May 5, 1968
Birthplace: Knoxville, Tennessee, USA
Cara Buono
Born: March 1, 1971
The Bronx, New York, USA
Aimée Spurlock
Born: July 5, 1973
Birthplace: Miami Beach, Florida, USA
Nelson Lee
Born: October 16, 1975
Taipei, Taiwan
Ye Win
Birthplace: Karen State, Myanmar (Burma)

Questioning the Story:

Was the church really on the verge of closing when Pastor Michael Spurlock took over?

Yes. All Saints' Church in Smyrna, Tennessee didn't have the money to remain in operation. They needed a miracle. Those in charge of the church believed that the best option was to close it down and sell the property.

Actor John Corbett (left) and the real Reverend Michael Spurlock (right).

What was Michael Spurlock's previous profession before becoming a priest?

In researching the All Saints true story, we learned that from 1995 to 1999, the real Michael Spurlock had worked in editing and publishing in New York City. He met his wife Aimée, an opera singer and musical actress, in Central Park in 1997. Before entering the seminary, he worked in corporate sales. In 2004, he began his studies at the Nashotah House Theological Seminary under the auspices of the Bishop of Tennessee. Michael graduated and was ordained in 2007.

How many members did All Saints' Church have when Michael Spurlock took over as pastor?

Michael Spurlock's All Saints book chronicles the true story, in addition to taking a closer look at the Karen people and the church.
According to the All Saints book released in conjunction with the movie, the church had only 25 members when Michael Spurlock took over as pastor and a mortgage it couldn't afford. All Saints' Church was Michael's first assignment after being ordained.

Did the church really welcome approximately 70 refugees who became part of the congregation?

Yes, and like in the movie, the Karen refugees from Myanmar helped to grow the congregation and solve the church's financial issues. The refugees were Christians and their numbers grew over time. As Anglicans, they shared many similarities with the Episcopal Church.

Did they really solve the church's financial issues by starting a farm on the property?

Yes. The Karen refugees, who first came to the church in 2008, were farmers by trade. Like in the movie, they asked if they could plant crops on the church property to provide for their families, and if possible, to help the church at the same time. They all worked together to begin farming the 16 acres of bottomland, which is ideal for growing crops. They grew spinach, sour leaf and a variety of other vegetables. The majority of the proceeds ended up being donated to the church to help with the bills.

After the Karen refugees showed up, the church also began to receive financial help from the diocese, who saw value in the church's newly expanded congregation. Led by John Bauerschmidt, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Tennessee, the diocese paid off the mortgage and employed Ye Win, a refugee, as a lay worker. Win is portrayed by Nelson Lee in the movie.

The farm fields behind All Saints' Episcopal Church in Tennessee and the front of the church (inset).

Did Michael and his wife really meet a couple on a hike who provided them with a water tank?

Yes. The real Michael Spurlock and his wife Aimée were on a hike when they ran into another couple. In real life, the couple was younger and had a baby. That day, Michael was frustrated with the way things were going at the church and didn't want to speak to anyone, but Aimée started asking about the couple's baby. "Out of politeness, I struck up a conversation with this farmer," Michael said in an interview for the movie, "and it turned out we knew people in common, and he told me, 'You know, as my farm has grown, we have equipment that we've outgrown and isn't useful to me anymore, and if we have anything you need, you're welcome to it.' And I said, 'We do need something. We need a thousand gallon water tank mounted on a trailer with a pump.' He said, 'I have a thousand gallon water tank mounted on a trailer with a pump. You can have it.'"

Do any of the real people appear in the movie?

Yes, many of the parishioners that are shown in the movie are from the actual congregation. The real-life Karen refugees from Burma appear in the movie too. It was filmed at the actual All Saints' Church where the events took place, located just outside of Nashville.

Does Reverend Michael Spurlock still work at All Saints' Church in Tennessee?

No. The real Michael Spurlock went on to become part of the clergy at Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue in New York City. As of the movie's release, he is still on the clergy staff there and lives in New York City with his wife Aimée and their two children, son Atticus and daughter Hadley.

Left: Aimée and Pastor Michael Spurlock in 2017. Right: Cara Buono and John Corbett as Aimée and Michael in the All Saints movie.

How long did Michael Spurlock work at All Saints' Church?

Reverend Michael Spurlock worked at All Saints' Episcopal Church for three years.

Michael Spurlock Interview & Related All Saints Videos

Unearth more details behind the All Saints true story by watching the Pastor Michael Spurlock interview below.

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