SOURCE: Independent Lens

Independent Lens

December 06, 2010 06:00 ET

PBS Series Independent Lens Presents "The Calling," a Special Four-Hour, Two-Night Event About Seven Young People Who Are Training for the Ministry

Documentary Explores Current Issues Facing America's Religious Communities "The Calling" Premieres in Two Parts, December 20 and 21, 2010

SAN FRANCISCO, CA--(Marketwire - December 6, 2010) - The United States is one of the most religiously observant and spiritually diverse countries in the world, yet mainstream media has surprisingly under-represented the significance of faith in the U.S. The Calling, a four-hour documentary series following the stories of seven young Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, and Muslim Americans who are training for religious leadership, underscores spiritual common ground and offers intimate portraits that provide a fresh and nuanced portrayal of faith in today's America. Produced by a multidenominational team of filmmakers led by series director/executive producer Danny Alpert, The Calling will air nationally on the Emmy® Award-winning PBS series Independent Lens, hosted by America Ferrera, on Monday, December 20, 2010 and Tuesday, December 21, 2010, from 9 to 11 PM (check local listings).

Although from different ethnic, geographic, and religious backgrounds, the young people featured in The Calling share similar traits: they're charismatic and likeable, driven and self-reflective, confident yet humble. Each is seeking to reconcile the modern world with their faith, balancing egos with a desire to serve, and blazing new paths to leadership while preserving age-old traditions. The Calling follows its subjects from their first days of training, through years of study, and into their early practice as religious leaders. We see them within and beyond the walls of school, wrestling with the sacrifices they've made to pursue this path. They debate theology and philosophy, learn to deliver sermons, perform their first weddings and funerals, and counsel people in crisis. We also get to know them as ordinary young people at the crossroads of their lives, struggling with doubt and fear, dating and family, and the myriad challenges of becoming an adult.

As this new generation of religious leaders prepares to take its place in our society, their unfolding stories explore some of the current issues facing America's religious communities: Islam strives to establish its American identity; the Catholic Church responds to sexual abuse scandals and the demographic shift to a Spanish-speaking majority; and African American churches adapt to women taking more active leadership roles.

Free screenings of The Calling will take place in 85 cities across the country in December as part of the national Community Cinema series, a groundbreaking public education and civic engagement initiative featuring free monthly screenings of films from Emmy® Award-winning PBS series Independent Lens. Community Cinema is on location in more than 50 cities nationally, bringing together leading organizations, community members, and public television stations to learn, discuss, and get involved in key social issues of our time.

In addition to the broadcast and nationwide screenings, The Calling will be supported by What's Your Calling? (WYC), a digital and community engagement campaign that explores the notion of "calling" -- from both religious and secular perspectives -- through a variety of media and written commentary. Through this content and user discussion, WYC ( will engage participants in conversations about why and how people are following their "calling," seeking to make the world a better place through art, politics, business, music, aid, sports, medicine, philanthropy, media, religious leadership, and beyond. WYC will also provide participants with opportunities to take action around the issues and causes they feel called to by connecting them with WYC partner organizations focused on service and leadership. What's Your Calling? is a partnership between The Kindling Group, See3 Communications, Active Voice, and the Independent Television Service (ITVS). 

On Thursday, December 9, from 5:30pm PT / 8:30pm ET join Independent Lens and WTTW and the Art Institute of Chicago for an exclusive online sneak peek screening of The Calling on the Independent Lens fan page on Facebook (, or on our Livestream ( channel before it airs on PBS. The half hour screening of selected scenes from the four-hour series will be followed by a panel discussion featuring the first and only gathering of the seven subjects of The Calling.

For more information about Independent Lens visit:
For more information about Community Cinema visit:
For more information about the WYC:

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