Winners Named for Faith Counts’ ‘Film Your Faith’ Video Contest

Winners Named for Faith Counts’ ‘Film Your Faith’ Video Contest

Kyle Churchwell’s ‘Faith Is Knowing’ Takes $20k Top Award; Hollywood Ending: Winning Film Unites Daughter and Long-Lost Father

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Sept. 18, 2018 – Faith Counts—the leading and fastest-growing multi-faith online platform—announced the top award winners in its third Film Your Faith contest, with $20,000 going to the film selected for the Grand Prize.

A total of $32,500 in prizes were awarded the Grand Prize-winning, Fan Favorite and Honorable Mention films of two minutes or less showcasing the power of faith in a positive light. The Grand Prize and Honorable Mention winners were announced Friday at the Religion Newswriters Association conference in Columbus, Ohio. The Fan Favorite winner, which is awarded to the Top Ten finalist video that receives the most online votes, was revealed Aug. 10.

“It is breathtaking what these talented filmmakers are able to so positively communicate about faith in just two minutes,” said Faith Counts Communications Director Kerry Troup. “The work of this year’s awardees will truly touch anyone who views it.”

The 2018 winners are:

GRAND PRIZE / $20,000: Kyle Churchwell, Lucedale, Mississippi, Faith Is Knowing

FAN FAVORITE / $10,000: Cooper Anderson, Bend, Oregon, Shameless

HONORABLE MENTION / $2,500: Landon Mauricio, Ewa Beach, Hawaii, The World Needs to Know

In an amazing twist resulting from Churchwell’s Faith Is Knowing, the winning film reunited the subject of the movie, Tori Welford, with her long-lost biological father, half-sisters and half-brother.

“While creating the Faith Is Knowing film with Tori, I knew that her story would resonate with people considering how miraculous it is,” Churchwell said. “It is amazing to be a Top 10 Finalist and Grand Prize Winner, but the purpose of film goes beyond winning awards. It is about telling a truly compelling story in hopes of giving the audience a meaningful experience. It is an amazing feeling to know that Tori found her biological father through a film we created and posted online. To have that kind of impact on people’s lives is my ultimate goal as a filmmaker.”

Faith Is Knowing recounts Tori’s remarkable life journey. She learned she was adopted at age 7, but when she turned 17, her adopted mom told her the rest of her story. Her biological mother, struggling with substance abuse, and with her grandmother’s help, had placed newborn Tori in a garbage bag in a trash can on their front porch.

Tori’s biological brother found her hours later, covered in ants and blue from lack of oxygen, and got her to a hospital where she was not expected to live. But she did.

With the film posted on Facebook and seen widely in Tori’s hometown, a man reached out to her. He had watched Faith Is Knowing multiple times and saw a resemblance between himself and Tori. A DNA test confirmed . . . it was Tori’s biological father. They had lived in the same small town all along. Her biological mother ultimately went to prison. Since the film, Tori has reconnected with her father, half-sisters and half-brother.

“I hope my story is able to help those that have felt like they’re not wanted,” Tori said in the film. “If they just keep their faith and trust in Christ, God does have a plan for their life.”

Relying on that faith, Tori has forgiven her mother.

This year’s Film Your Faith Panel of Judges includes:

  • Rich Peluso, AFFIRM Films
  • Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, Archbishop of Louisville and past president, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
  • Sister Sharon Eubank, first counselor of the General Presidency of the Relief Society, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
  • Rabbi Joshua Bolton, University of Pennsylvania Hillel chapter
  • Steve Taylor, film producer (BLUE LIKE JAZZ)
  • Kam Williams, Rotten Tomatoes critic
  • Matt Baer, film producer (UNBROKEN)
  • Simon Rivera, 2017 Film Your Faith grand-prize winner
  • Bob Waliszewski, director of Plugged In
  • Baldev Singh, Executive Director, Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund

The Faith Counts Story

In 2014, several faith leaders came together to address a trend of declining church attendance and declining religiosity. They saw how an increasingly secular culture left too many people in a spiritual void that excluded them from meaningful, deep connections to the people and world around them.

Online, they saw how young people were willing to share quite literally every personal, intimate detail of their lives—except the detail of their faith. There was and is a growing sense that faith should somehow be kept private. Many are reluctant or even embarrassed to share how their faith makes them who they are.

While each of their respective denominations were doing their own outreach to combat these issues, the faith leaders knew they would be more effective working together. And so, Faith Counts was launched in October 2014 as an attempt to positively influence the culture and to gently remind people that faith is a good thing.

FaithCounts.com encourages people of all faiths to share their personal faith stories and thoughts by posting to the website, sharing on social media with #FaithCounts or creating a video for the site.

Faith Counts has nearly 600,000 followers and has become the leading, fastest-growing multi-faith online platform with an engagement rate three times the industry standard.

Partner organizations supporting FaithCounts.com include 1st Amendment Partnership, Episcopal Migration Ministries, Franciscan University of Steubenville, Hillel International, Hindu American Foundation, Orthodox Union, Seventh-Day Adventist Church, Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, The Salvation Army and United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

For interviews, contact: Michael Conrad, Michael@Lovell-Fairchild.com, 214-616-0320

About Faith Counts

Faith Counts, LLC is a nonprofit, non-denominational organization comprised of faith communities representing nearly 100 million Americans. We’ve come together to share a simple message that “faith counts.”

Film Your Faith Grand Prize Winner 2018

Film Your Faith Grand Prize Winner 2018

The Grand Prize winner of the Film Your Faith Video Contest is…“Faith is Knowing” by Kyle Churchwell

“I am in shock! I am so grateful not only to receive the Grand Prize but that Tori’s story could be heard by so many people. It tells such an empowering message, and I am honored to be a part of sharing it. I want to thank Tori for her bravery in sharing her story, my brother Jaron for his help with the video, and my family and friends who have been so supportive of my work. Lastly, a huge thanks to Faith Counts for the opportunity to share such an encouraging story with the world. I will use this prize further my work and create more positive, inspiring videos. Thank you!”

Kyle Churchwell is a 20-year-old director, videographer, and visual effects artist from Lucedale, Mississippi. As co-founder of production company Coast Media, Kyle works alongside his brother Jaron Churchwell to direct and produce many videos for businesses, schools, and weddings around his South Mississippi community. His inspiration for storytelling through filmmaking is derived from a variety of creatives such as Casey Neistat, Christopher Nolan, among others. Kyle’s goal is to continue telling positive stories in his videos just as the one told in his entry to the 2018 Faith Counts Video Contest.

Kyle Churchwell will receive $20,000. Find out more information about the Fan Favorite and Honorable Mention.

Film Your Faith Honorable Mention 2018

Film Your Faith Honorable Mention 2018

The Honorable Mention of the Film Your Faith Video Contest is…“The World Needs to Know” by Landon Mauricio

“After not winning last year, Iʻm glad I never gave up hope and entered again. Receiving honorable mention this year, it proved faith never stops believing! All glory goes to God as I complete my mission to Make Jesus famous!”

Landon Mauricio started his faith journey at 13 years old after he felt called to be a pastor. Immediately, he started a Christian club at his intermediate school which grew to the largest Christian club in Hawaii. The club followed him into high school and has since expanded to six different schools. When Landon graduated high school, he created Called Ministry, branching from his Christian club, which operates as a Christian center to reach youth and young adults for Christ. Landon started his video career his sophomore year at Moanalua High School and has traveled around the nation to win countless media accolades. Oh, and did we mention he’s only 20 years old?

“Faith isn’t an unquestioning belief, it’s questioning and still believing.”

Landon Mauricio will receive $2,500. Find out more information about the Grand Prize and Fan Favorite.

Film Your Faith Fan Favorite 2018

Film Your Faith Fan Favorite 2018

The Fan Favorite winner of the Film Your Faith Video Contest is…”Shameless” by Cooper Anderson

“I am ecstatic to receive the audience choice award for this film! I want to thank all my family, friends, and supporters out there who voted every day to make this a reality! And a special thanks to Jesus! I knew he had something special for this film from the start, and I can’t wait to see where he takes it and the lives he changes next through its message!”

Cooper Anderson is a filmmaker, musician, and producer who resides in beautiful Bend, Oregon. From a young age, Cooper knew that he was called to create films that gave people hope, and presented them with a new way of thinking from a Christian perspective. His faith in Jesus is the foundation of his life, so naturally the faith and hope that he has works its way into every project he creates. Cooper is happily married to his beautiful wife Morgan, and plans to continue his career in media creation and presentation wherever God places him.

Cooper Anderson from Oregon will receive $10,000. The Grand Prize winner (receiving $20,000) and Honorable Mention winner (receiving $2,500) will be announced September 14!

Film Your Faith Fan Favorite Winner

The Fan Favorite winner of the Film Your Faith Video Contest is . . . “Light of Faith” by Kent Thalman!

“This contest isn’t worth it because of the money. It not only gives anyone the chance to say what they feel about faith, but to exercise their faith in something known for an outcome that is not. Winning is obviously amazing, but more than that, I’ve learned that I can make something that profoundly effects an individual for good. I can give a voice to the voiceless without money. What I’ve gained is more than monetary because I’ve discovered something within myself that will change who I am and give me greater confidence in Christ.”

 

Raksha

Kent Thalman from Utah will receive $10,000. The Grand Prize winner (receiving $20,000) and Honorable Mention winner (receiving $2,500) will be announced September 8!

Film Your Faith Fan Favorite Winner

The Fan Favorite winner of the Film Your Faith Video Contest is . . . “Light of Faith” by Kent Thalman!

Raksha

“This contest isn’t worth it because of the money. It not only gives anyone the chance to say what they feel about faith, but to exercise their faith in something known for an outcome that is not. Winning is obviously amazing, but more than that, I’ve learned that I can make something that profoundly effects an individual for good. I can give a voice to the voiceless without money. What I’ve gained is more than monetary because I’ve discovered something within myself that will change who I am and give me greater confidence in Christ.”

 

 

 
 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kent Thalman from Utah will receive $10,000. The Grand Prize winner (receiving $20,000) and Honorable Mention winner (receiving $2,500) will be announced September 8!

Film Your Faith Grand Prize Winner

The Grand Prize winner of the Film Your Faith Video Contest is . . . “Without Walls” by Carlos Cuervo!

In response to being awarded the top honors, Carlos Cuervo of Miami, Florida said, “I was so surprised and so happy when I found out I won the Grand Prize! The reason I got into filmmaking is because I thought I could do something positive through it, and this has proved that for me.”

In addition to the Grand Prize, two Honorable Mention winners were also selected!

“Metaphors of Faith”, by Andreas Peterson

“I Am New”, by Tim Holt

The Grand Prize winner received $20,000 for winning the Film Your Faith video contest, and the two Honorable Mention winners were each awarded $2,500.

The Fan Favorite Winner, announced on August 15th, was also awarded a prize of $10,000. Check it out here.

Video Contest Press Release

AND THE WINNER IS…FAITH COUNTS ANNOUNCES $20,000 GRAND PRIZE WINNER

INAUGURAL FILM YOUR FAITH CONTEST PUTS FAITH IN FOCUS

PHILADELPHIA – Today, the Grand Prize winner of the first-ever Film Your Faith video contest was announced, after weeks of deliberation by a judge’s panel of national faith leaders. The announcement took place before a crowd of faith leaders and religion reporters at the annual conference of the Religion Newswriters Association. Carlos Cuervo of Miami, Florida, accepted the $20,000 award for his submission “Without Walls,” which brings to life the work of a small faith-based charity ministering to the homeless. “I was so surprised and so happy when I found out I won the Grand Prize! The reason I got into filmmaking is because I thought I could do something positive through it, and this has proved that for me,” said Mr. Cuervo.


Read more here

Faith Counts—a multi-faith venture backed by the nation’s largest religious groups—launched the Film Your Faith video contest in June 2015. Since its 2014 founding, Faith Counts has reached over 20 million individuals using multiple social media platforms to promote the value of faith in society. Faith Counts is now the fastest growing among the thousands of religiously-themed page on Facebook.

Speaking on behalf of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Archbishop William Lori remarked, “Every single day, people engage in large and small acts of faith that greatly benefit our society and help the most vulnerable amongst us. Faith Counts and this contest are relevant ways to recognize and celebrate the important contributions of religion and faith.” Elder Donald L. Hallstrom of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, agreed, stating, “I am so pleased to be part of this great initiative aimed at promoting faith. Seeing the winner accept the award was an affirmation that young people truly do understand the profound good that faith accomplishes.”

The Contest:

The Film Your Faith video contest called for 2-minute videos showcasing faith in a positive light and attracted over 100 entrants from around the country. The promotional marketing included outreach to young people via colleges, university film schools, religiously affiliated schools and campus groups including CRU, The Navigators, and Faith Counts partner Hillel. Speaking for Hillel, Rabbi Joshua Bolton of the University of Pennsylvania, stated, “I get to work with young people every day and so I know first-hand that many of them are eager to share what their faith means to them. This contest was a great way to encourage more young people to open up about their faith.” Kerry Troup, spokeswoman for Faith Counts, added, “We were really pleased with the number and quality of the submissions. We hope that Film Your Faith becomes an annual event that engages young people and encourages an important national conversation on the value of faith.”

The Film Entries:

The contest drew submissions from across the country and from diverse faiths. The Top Ten Finalists included a light-hearted short film, Seva by brother and sister team Harnek and Rasna Neelam that followed a day in their life, as they charmingly stumble upon the meaning of faith. Peace Amidst Uncertainty took a more somber approach, featuring the medical challenges facing an expectant mother of twin girls.

HONORABLE MENTION, $2,500 AWARD:

Metaphors of Faith, by Andreas Peterson, is a creatively animated film that explores a personal look at what faith is and is not, to the illustrator/filmmaker.

HONORABLE MENTION, $2,500 AWARD: 

I Am New by recent Abilene Christian University grad Tim Holt, is a beautifully filmed short about how faith positively changed one young woman’s life.

The Fan Favorite:


Read more here

America also got the chance to vote for their favorite Film Your Faith video on FaithCounts.com. The winning Fan Favorite video, with a prize amount of $10,000, was awarded to Utah Valley University student Austin Bagley on August 11, 2015. Turn on Your Light features a young girl recalling her reliance on God following the death of her mother and her struggles in Zimbabwe before her adoption and move to America.

The Judges:

The difficult task of selecting the top three prizewinners fell to a panel of judges selected by Faith Counts staff, which included national faith leaders and representatives of our faith partners: Archbishop William Lori, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops; Sumeet Kaur Bal, Sikh American Legal Defense Fund, Rabbi Joshua Bolten, Hillel International, Sister Neill Marriott and Elder Donald L. Hallstrom, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

ABOUT FAITH COUNTS

Faith Counts is a nonprofit, nondenominational organization comprised of many religious communities who represent over 100 million Americans. The mission of Faith Counts is simple: to promote the value of faith. The centerpiece of Faith Counts is a social media campaign that tells powerful stories about how faith counts—how it inspires, empowers, motivates and comforts billions of people.

Faith Counts Partners include a diverse faith community including: Sikh American Legal Defense Fund, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, Seventh-Day Adventist Church, Hillel International, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the 1st Amendment Partnership, and Franciscan University of Steubenville. All faith groups are welcome.

Press Release

Press Release

RELIGIOUS GROUPS JOIN TOGETHER TO LAUNCH FAITH COUNTS

Diverse and unprecedented social media campaign to promote the value of faith

Washington, D.C. – Today, major faith groups in the United States announced the launch of Faith Counts (www.FaithCounts.com), a multi-faith organization aimed at promoting the value of faith. The centerpiece of Faith Counts is a social media campaign that tells powerful stories about how faith inspires, empowers, motivates and comforts billions of people. Faith Counts will emphasize the significant contributions of faith to individuals and to society. The initiative came about as the leadership of several major religious groups recognized a need, and an opportunity to harness their collective influence to simply to remind people that faith plays a positive role in society.

Speaking on behalf of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Archbishop William Lori, states, “Religious faith is an integral part of our society and needs to be lifted up and celebrated. Faith prompts acts of kindness every day, in every community of our nation. It also connects us to God and to each other as members of the human family. We are so pleased to be a part of Faith Counts, which can make a real difference in the lives of so many.”

Kerry Troup, spokeswoman for Faith Counts, adds, “We’re finding that, in spite of a growing sense that faith is not something to talk about, and a culture that marginalizes faith, people are actually hungry for our message about faith. Our hope is that people who see our work, regardless of what religion they are, will have a better appreciation for the value of faith, feel inspired to share these stories and ultimately feel good about expressing how faith makes them who they are.”

Faith Counts will feature an ongoing series of themed hashtag campaigns, each highlighting a beneficial attribute of faith. The first campaign, #FaithCounts, encourages users to tell why faith counts to them. Each campaign features content produced by Faith Counts and its partners, and each piece tells a story of how faith empowers individuals and benefits society. One video, for example, features a homeless panhandler with a charitable instinct. Another illustrates how faith can create a series of guideposts to navigate life’s challenging experiences. Future campaigns will include content featuring people whose lives have been shaped by their faith, including Olympic gold medalist Missy Franklin, kidnapping survivor Elizabeth Smart, and others.

Elder Daniel R. Jackson, President of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America, states, “Millions of Americans of every religion are motivated by their faith to go and serve the most vulnerable among us. Their gracious acts can be seen in soup kitchens, hospitals, schools, homeless shelters and many other humanitarian causes. Faith Counts will serve as a gentle reminder about these and other positive and meaningful attributes of faith in society.”

Jasjit Singh, executive director of the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF), notes “Faith Counts has a refreshingly simple message: faith is a good thing. We are drawn to the Faith Counts campaign because it reflects our belief in the tremendous societal value of all faiths, and are excited about Faith Counts’ ability to reach, engage, and unite interfaith communities.”

All faith communities are welcome and encouraged to join. Current Faith Counts partners include:

ABOUT FAITH COUNTS

Faith Counts is a nonprofit, nondenominational organization comprised of many religious communities who represent over 100 million Americans. The mission of Faith Counts is simple: to promote the value of faith. The centerpiece of Faith Counts is a social media campaign that tells powerful stories about how faith counts—how it inspires, empowers, motivates and comforts billions of people.