Faithville

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Imagine a town based in the 1940s where life is simple,
neighbors are close friends, and Christian principles govern each
resident’s life. Faithville Gospelcast Productions had this town in
mind when developing its highly acclaimed Faithville Live Sunday
school curriculum. Today, after six years of live in-church shows,
the Faithville Gospelcast has produced a first-quality children’s
comedy show based on its Sunday school teachings.

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The show is seen on more than 1,100 television stations across
the world, including Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) in the
United States and Canada and The Vision Network in Canada. The show
is called Faithville: The Town That Lives After Its Name and is the
creation of Tom Collins, director of Faithville Gospelcast
Productions and the children’s pastor at Windsor Christian
Fellowship in Windsor, Ontario.

SUCCESSFUL ROOTS

In January of 1992, Tom Collins first laid the groundwork for the
scope of Faithville at Windsor Christian Fellowship. Tom wanted to
reach young people’s hearts while teaching them biblical principles
in a way they could relate to.

“Kids today are sense-oriented,” Tom says. “They love to laugh –
and so does God. Before writing the lessons for Faithville Live, I
asked my four children to give me some ideas. They wanted something
that was fun and funny as well. So I got together with three other
writers, and we developed our lessons around slapstick comedy
skits. When the first skit debuted before our 400-member children’s
church, it was an instant success.

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“I thought a lot about the shows I used to watch as a boy, such
as I Love Lucy; Mayberry, R.F.D; and The Andy Griffith Show,” he
adds. “Besides being entertaining, they taught important lessons on
life. Faithville’s goal is to do the same thing — to teach
children God’s Word in a way they’ll remember.”

Faithville Live is designed to use the children as a studio
audience. The circa 1940s town has era-appropriate props, costumes,
and buildings that create a nostalgic atmosphere. Every Sunday,
children from 5 to 12 years of age participate through spontaneous
laughter, cheers, and songs. When the skits are finished, children
go to their classes where teachers further expand on the lesson.
After class, each child receives a copy of the Faithville
Chronicle, an in-house newsletter that’s full of games, puzzles,
and a summary of each lesson.

From the outset, Tom wanted Faithville Live curriculum to reach
across denominational boundaries. So far, churches in Ottawa and
Brampton, Ontario, as well as South Haven, Michigan, have adopted
the Sunday school curriculum.

“Christians may not agree on certain doctrines, but all parents
value the fruit of the Holy Spirit in their children’s lives,” says
Tom. “We’ve taken these traits along with other principles, such as
prayer and interpersonal relationships, and taught God’s Word in
ways that apply to everyday life.”

Today, after six years of live in-church shows, the Faithville
Gospelcast has produced a first-quality children’s comedy show
based on its Sunday school teachings.

LIGHTS, CAMERAS, ACTION!
In January of 1995, thoughts of turning Faithville Live into a
television program began to stir in Tom’s heart. But how? Although
the Faithville ministry team had grown to more than 50 people, no
one had any experience with television. As a team, they looked to
God for direction, and God faithfully answered their prayers.

While attending a seminar at a local church in Windsor, Tom met
David Mainse, the host of 100 Huntley Street (seen on The Vision
Network). After hearing about Faithville, David suggested that Tom
take a producer’s course at their broadcast school. With the
blessing of his wife Lorraine and senior pastor Rick Ciaramitaro,
Tom commuted between Windsor and Toronto for the next four
months.

Meanwhile, Brian and Patty Banks had just moved from Alberta and
had made Windsor Christian Fellowship their home church. While out
west, Brian had gained extensive experience as a TV cameraman at
Victory Christian Center and was a natural fit for
Faithville.

The final pieces of Faithville’s television puzzle came with the
arrival of David and Brenda Harrison who also started attending
Windsor Christian Fellowship. David had been working full time for
the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) in Toronto as a
producer, editor, and production manager. And Brenda had years of
experience with costumes and makeup. Upon hearing of Faithville’s
ambitions and after much prayer, David resigned from the CBC to
take a full-time position with Faithville.

With the help of the 100 Huntley Street show’s setup crew,
Faithville went through a complete set makeover. They installed
television lights, added professional cameras, and built an editing
suite. As people heard about Faithville’s vision, they donated
$10,000, $40,000, and $50,000 to buy the necessary equipment. By
the time Tom had finished his broadcasting course, Faithville was
ready for filming.
     

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