Bezalel Rising: Gary David Stratton Speaks at Princeton on Hollywood Storytelling and Culture-Making Communities of Faith, by Sue Yonker

Senior Editor Gary David Stratton and Columbia Tristar Pictures’ VP DeVon Franklin lecture in Princeton Seminary’s first media and ministry conference that director Carla Debbie Alleyne hopes will become an annual event.

“To flourish in the 21st century and bring life to a floundering culture, our churches, colleges, and seminaries must learn to foster ‘Bezalel communities.’ ” – Gary David Stratton

By Sue Yonker • Bethel University

Dr. Gary David Stratton, PhD presented a lecture at Princeton Theological Seminary in February. (Courtesy of Princeton Theological Seminary; Credit: Emily Phillips Davis)
Photo courtesy of Princeton Theological Seminary: Emily Phillips Davis

Gary David Stratton, Bethel’s lead faculty for worldview formation and former chair of the Christian Ministries Department (CAPS), presented a lecture at Princeton Theological Seminary on February 19 for the school’s Black History Month. Hosted by the Association of Black Seminarians at Princeton, the lecture focused on Stratton’s passion to encourage Christian filmmakers and artisans in their craft so they can influence culture. Stratton urged his listeners to follow the calling of Bezalel, the artisan noted in Exodus 31 and 35 for designing the Ark of the Covenant and the Tabernacle.

Bezalel Rising

“The modern church has ignored and even shunned artists, while our society has elevated artists, filmmakers, and musicians to the pinnacle of cultural influence,” Stratton says. “Bezalel was called to create art worthy of bearing the presence of God, and to do so in a collaborative, Spirit-empowered teaching/learning community of masters and apprentices. To flourish in the 21st century and bring life to a floundering culture, our churches, colleges, and seminaries must learn to foster ‘Bezalel communities’ that bear the same qualities.”

Stratton, DeVon Franklin (Columbia Pictures), Carla Debbie Alleyne (Conference Director), and Kobie Brown (Sony Music)
Stratton, DeVon Franklin (Columbia Pictures), Carla Debbie Alleyne (Conference Director), and Kobie Brown (Sony Music)

Following his lecture, Stratton moderated a panel discussion by media experts of color on transforming culture. The panel consisted of movie producers, recording artists, filmmakers, and talent agents discussing ways to influence the culture through media and the arts. The events were successful and moving, Stratton says: “A ‘sermon’ by DeVon Franklin, Columbia Pictures vice president, set the stage for my evening lecture and the panel discussion. We closed with a powerful time of prayer for future media leaders, church leaders, and educators. My hope is that this event was the next step in a journey toward seeing the church in America fully embrace artists and filmmakers.”

A Hollywood to Minnesota Commute

Stratton’s work is more than academic. He lives in Hollywood where he directs the Bezalel Initiative, a think tank that seeks ways to identify, support, and fund young filmmakers. Previously, he served as executive director at Act One, a nonprofit organization that prepares Christians for careers in mainstream media. His passion is to develop a generation of women and men who are “Two-Handed Warriors” committed to both building faith and influencing culture. Visit garydavidstratton.com to learn more about his online community, “Two-Handed Warriors.”

Media Panelists: Performing Artist Solomon Starr,  Management Exec Nicole Heyward,  TV One Exec Robyn Greene Arrington, Casting Director Winsome Sinclair
Media Panelists: Performing Artist, Solomon Starr; Management Exec, Nicole Heyward; TV One Exec, Robyn Greene Arrington; Casting Director, Winsome Sinclair, and Sony Music Exec, Kobie Brown (Courtesy of PTS, Emily Phillips Davis)
(Written for Bethel University. Used by permission.)