The CORE Opening Weekend

•  Wildwood Film Festival at The CORE

My first visit to The CORE was on Friday, April 17, 2009 for the Wildwood Film Festival.  I saw both film sessions at The CORE, and my favorite movie was Maine Story.  The movie was shot in Maine, but the main actress was from Wisconsin, and she was talented and natural.

Some characters in Maine Story did take the Lord’s name in vain, but I was also straining to hear the dialog.  I’m not sure whether The CORE or the Festival was in charge of projecting the films, but I thought the picture and sound quality were sub-par, especially during the first session.  During the second session, one of the film makers yelled, “Volume!” and the volume was turned up making the second session easier to hear.

The biggest disappointment for me was Autumn.  I thought this might be my favorite movie, and was looking forward to maybe fifteen minutes of sharp beautiful autumn photography.  Unfortunately, Autumn seemed like it was less than 60 seconds of blurry footage.  I was disappointed.

The final movie at the CORE was The Hungry BullThe Hungry Bull is a feature length movie that was superbly acted, well directed, and was also accompanied by excellent local music.  However, it was also very vulgar.  Based on the previews, I was expecting the “F” word and some vulgar images, but I think The Hungry Bull set an all time “F” word world record, among other words.  There was also nudity along with sexual activity on camera.

The Festival organizers said that all the films were about a PG-13 rating, but I disagreed.  There was one nude scene in particular that in my opinion could have earned The Hungry Bull an NC-17 rating from the MPAA, if the movie had been rated.  That scene was supposed to be funny, but there are some things I’d rather not see.  Overall, I did not like The Hungry Bull because there was too much moral darkness.

A good chunk of the discussion period after the second session was about the amount of vulgarity in The Hungry Bull.  The first questioner was a gentleman who indicated that he hears that sort of language at work every day, and felt that while some vulgarity in a movie can help to make a point, he thought that The Hungry Bull over did it.  He also noted that The CORE was a church, and should be a place of hope, not despair.  The movie makers explained their decisions to portray the characters in the way that they did, and one of the Festival organizers also noted that everything was discussed and cleared with Pastor Skorzewski in advance.

During the time period I was writing this post, Pastor Skorzewski was unavailable to comment, but Pastor Glende said that Pastor Skorzewski

did not clear everything as was claimed.  One of the organizers even apologized for that movie which was so vulgar …  pastor Ski didn’t approve the movie and the promises made regarding the content was not the way it played out.

The director of Happy Boy said that he had made a decision to avoid vulgar language, specifically the “F” word, because he did not want to limit his audience.  Happy Boy was an amusing comedy and my second favorite picture of the Festival.

•  The CORE Grand Opening

On Sunday, April 19, 2009, I returned to The CORE for the grand opening.  Immediately upon entering the doors, I was hit by the smell of fresh popcorn.  There was more popcorn for the grand opening of The CORE as a church than there was for the film festival, however, there were also a lot more people on hand than were there for the festival.

There was standing room only at The CORE as a large number of WELS members came to see this different style of worship.  Even Pastor Ski commented on the large number of pastors in attendance.

The service began with a crystal clear projection of The CORE’s new logo on their extra-large movie screen surrounded by lightning and electricity sound effects.  Immediately, it was clear that The CORE’s video was going to far surpass the quality of the video at the film festival.  “Pastor Ski” (Skorzewski) then joked that The CORE doesn’t have a bell, so they use lightning and electricity sound effects instead.

The jokes and statement of mission were followed by a period of introduction and prayer.  The praise band then took over with the first praise song: “God of Wonders” by Chris Tomlin.

The following player plays a low quality recording of some sample music from the grand opening:  “At the Name of Jesus.”

Then there was a confession of sins called “Forgive Us, Renew Us, Lead Us,” a reading from the Book of Jonah, a collection of gifts followed by applause for the praise band, and then the sermon entitled: “Urban Legends: There are Many Ways to God.”

As part of the sermon message we watched a five minute video of Pastor Skorzewski asking people, “How do you get to heaven?”  The answers were all basically the same: Be a good person.  Pastor Skorzewski’s sermon did deliver law and gospel.

Here is a link to a pdf of The CORE’s grand opening bulletin along with a sermon outline:

The CORE Grand Opening Bulletin

After the sermon, Pastor Skorzewski asked the audience for prayer requests.  Then after some specific prayers and the Lord’s prayer, the praise band concluded with “The Voice of Truth” by Casting Crowns.  Here is the refrain and bridge from that song:

But the voice of truth tells me a different story
The voice of truth says, “Do not be afraid!”
The voice of truth says, “This is for My glory”
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth.

I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth.

After this song, Pastor Skorzewski gave the Benediction, and then concluded with a number of closing comments, including giving away prizes to the winners of a number of naming contests:  The winning name for the video blog was “EnCORE,” and the winning name for the newsletter was “COREspondence.”

Finally, there was a period of fellowship and food in The CORE’s lobby.