HollywoodJesus.com: Pop Culture From A Spiritual Point Of View
Hollywood Jesus Annual Gathering 2007
About HJAG 2007
Travel & Dining

Overview of the Gathering

December 29 through December 31, 2007
Renton, Washington
Hosted by Harambee Church and the Harambee Community Development Association (HCDA).

This once-a-year event is designed to equip and encourage the far-flung virtual staff of Hollywood Jesus -- as well as others who support ministry through and to popular culture.


  • Free for HJ staff members, spouses and children.  Advance registration required.
  • Free for HCDA members and partners, such as Harambee Church and the Acts 29 network.  Advance registration required.
  • $75 for other fully-registered attendees (day rates and student/pastor discounts available). See below for registration details.

All events will be held at the facilities of the HCDA, 316 South 3rd Street, in downtown Renton -- just 15 minutes from Sea-Tac International Airport and less than half an hour from downtown Seattle.

Check back here for program updates. Subject to change.


Saturday through Monday, 6:30-9:30 pm
Film, Culture, and Spirituality
Open to the public. Screenings of selected films followed by discussion, with HJ's staff on hand to facilitate.

  • Saturday: After... (written by HJ's Kevin Miller)
  • Sunday: Atonement (Field Trip)
  • Monday: The Wager (starring Randy Travis)

Saturday through Monday, mornings and afternoons
Workshops and Lectures
Registered Attendees only. 1.5 hour sessions, topics and presenters as follows (subject to change).

  • Saturday, 9 AM: Greg & Jenn Wright, HJ Managing Editors: "Back to the Future." Greg Wright discussed the happenings at Hollywood Jesus over the last few years. Since 2005, many new and dramatic events have changed the face of Hollywood Jesus. In addition to a change in the site design, HJ struggled with technical glitches from third party vendors. From discontinued forums, blog problems after the Google takeover, broken ad servers resulting in the same ads posting for months, to the changes in the platform from html to cold fusion to wordpress, technical difficulties touched almost every aspect of the site. However, through the united efforts of HJ’s leaders, the site survived. Looking into the future, Greg anticipates that we can finally focus more on content now that most of the technical difficulties are resolved.
  • Saturday, 11 AM: Peter Chattaway, CT Movies: "Reading Scenes in Movies." Peter Chattaway addressed the many ways that scenes are brought to life. Citing multiple examples and playing several movie clips as evidence, Peter discussed how filmmakers use camera effects, actor placement and well-written scripts to give a scene its maximum impact. By taking the time to read scenes on a more technical level, viewers may gain better insight into the characters, the theme and the director’s intentions.
  • Saturday, 1:30 PM: Jeffrey Overstreet, Author of Through a Screen Darkly: "The Big Picture." Jeffrey Overstreet highlighted some of the major points in the beginning of his book, Through a Screen Darkly. Sharing his own personal journey in life (which mirrored those of many listening), Jeffrey showed how his curiosity about movies led him to question and later explore his faith through film. Forever changed by movies like Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and E.T., Jeffrey found faith in the blockbusters of his youth when others around him simply criticized their moral implications. Above all, Jeffrey encouraged attendees to continue in the discussion of art and faith in the arena of film, and to aspire to excellence in all they do.
  • Saturday, 3:30 PM: David Bruce, HJ Founder: "HJ 10 Years Later." David Bruce, Hollywood Jesus’s founder and webmaster, delivered an inspirational message to this year’s HJAG attendees, starting out with a review of HJ’s origins and purpose. Affirming the gifts and talents each person brings to Hollywood Jesus, David also addressed many of the surprising truths that exist in the world today. Strange tidbits such as “eating dirt improves immunity” and “coffee helps prevent Parkinson’s disease” encouraged guests and writers to look beyond what seems apparent on the outside. By approaching culture from a different point of view, profound truths can be discovered.
  • Sunday, 1:30 PM: Mike Gunn, Harambee Church: "Gospel and Culture." Mike Gunn teaches a 16-week course on Gospel and Culture at Harambee Church in Renton, Washington, and shared several of the highlights from his course at HJAG. Through a montage of pictures set to music, Mike asked HJAG guests to verbalize what our culture is trying to say. In the same way that missionaries study the culture and language of the countries they plan to visit, he challenged attendees to research the cultural text of our nation. What is it saying? How can we know our fellow countrymen better? By paying attention to the text of our icons, the films, music and other art we produce, and our religious and philosophical backgrounds, anyone can be better equipped to have meaningful conversations with those they encounter.
  • Sunday,  3:30 PM: Maurice Broaddus, Writer and HJ Comics Editor: "The Magical Negro." Maurice Broaddus discussed “The Magical Negro” in film history. Beginning as early as the 1950s, filmmakers have included a wise, sage-like mentor to guide the protagonist along his or her journey. Many of these sages have been African-Americans, often portrayed with physical, social or mental disadvantages. Though the inclusion of these characters might be considered a racial slur to some, Maurice emphasized that looking at the broader text of the film (and inclusion of other African-Americans) helps reveal whether the character was truly meant to be a “magical negro” or whether they were meant to be a “humble mentor.”
  • Monday, 9 AM: Melinda Ledman, HJ TV Editor: "Spirituality and the 800 lb. Gorilla (TV!)." Melinda Ledman outlined the differences between film and television scripts. Beginning with film screenplays, she showed how to deconstruct a movie to find its major elements; three act structure, character arc (with subplot), and theme. From film to television, she discussed major differences in how and when these elements occur. Finally, she suggested a few key places to look when searching a story for spiritual elements. By understanding how scripts operate, spiritual truths can be more quickly and easily found.
  • Monday, 11 AM: Ken Priebe, Writer and VanArts Instructor: "Animation as an Act of Worship." Ken Priebe, author of The Art of Stop-Motion Animation, brought insight into the world of animation. Beginning with early animation techniques such as rotoscoping and hand-drawn 2-D sketches, through more recent techniques such as stop motion, 3-D and motion capture, Ken explored the history of animation. He also showed how several famous animators over time have viewed their work as an act of worship and an expression of their faith. Using sample clips, Ken showed how animators glorify God in their work. In a special interview, one artist expressed in his own words the depth of faith that went into his work on Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.
  • Monday, 1:30 PM: James Harleman, Mars Hill Pastor: "Blockbusters and Superheroes: What’s Gone Wrong, and Why We Shoot Our Saviors." James Harleman, admittedly a bigger fan of huge blockbusters than small indie films, discussed the top ten blockbusters of 2007. In an interesting comparison between domestic and international ranking, James showed how the world climate differs when it comes to movies. Domestically, however, he identified several problems with the film industry, including over saturation of the market and the trouble with franchise films.
  • Monday, 3:30 PM: Greg Wright, HJ Managing Editor: "Point of View and Cinematic Narrative." Greg Wright concluded the weekend with a discussion of how point of view affects a viewer’s interpretation of a film. Beginning first with literature, Greg challenged listeners to see if they could figure out whether several poems were written in first, second or third person. Then, he discussed whether or not the point of view chosen reflected on the author’s intent or experience. Carrying the idea over to movies, Greg showed how a film portrays point of view through voice over and camera techniques. By paying attention to how point of view is portrayed, viewers may gain additional insight into the story or possibly, what the filmmakers might be saying about themselves.

Monday Night, 9:30 PM to Midnight
New Year's Clips Party
Registered Attendees only.  HJ staffers introduce their favorite clips from the past year.  An HJAG highlight!

Sunday, 10 AM
Worship with Harambee Church
Everybody welcome!


Advance registration for this event is required.

Registration gives attendees access to workshops and lectures held during the day from Saturday through Monday -- plus a pass to the New Year's Eve Clips Party! 

Full adult registration also includes a copy of Hollywood Jesus Reviews 2006-2007, plus a Hollywood Jesus T-shirt.

Complimentary registration is available to HJ staff and Harambee Community Development Association (HCDA) members and partners, such as Harambee Church and the Acts 29 Network.

Discounted registration is available for pastors and students.

All registration fees collected go toward covering the cost of the event. The balance, if any, will be donated to the Harambee Community Development Association, hosts of the event.

Please email Greg Wright with any specific inquiries.

Accommodation and Meals

We encourage attendees to reserve a room at the Renton Holiday Inn Select, just a mile or so from the conference site. The hotel offers complimentary transportation to and from the airport, plus shuttle service to and from the sessions. Advance-purchase bookings via the Internet run about $95 per night rate at this convenient facility. Or, if you prefer, call the hotel directly to make reservations (425-226-7700) at a slightly higher rate.

Ample break times are provided in the schedule for meals -- and lots of exotic options are available within a short walk of the conference site.

Special Guests and Presenters

David Bruce, HJ Founder and Webmaster
Keynote Speaker
David is a graduate of North Park University/Seminary in Chicago (MDiv, 1988) and has pastored several churches. Currently, David provides consulting to several emerging multimedia churches. He has worked in production and administration for NBC-TV and several radio stations, and has published several magazines. He began Hollywood Jesus in 1997.

Peter T. Chattaway, CT Movies
Special Guest
A resident of Vancouver, B.C., Peter has been on the staff of BC Christian News since '99. He also reviews films for Christianity Today's website and for ChristianWeek, and has been a semi-regular contributor to Books & Culture since '98. His award-winning articles have also appeared in Bible Review, Faith Today, The Vancouver Sun, and Beliefnet.com. He is also a member of the Faith and Film Critics Circle.

Jeffrey OverstreetJeffrey Overstreet, Through a Screen Darkly
Special Guest
On staff at Seattle Pacific University, Jeffrey is also a contributor to CT Movies, among other publications.  In addition to Through a Screen Darkly, a film-criticism memoir, he is the author of the novel Auralia's Colors, just released by Waterbrook Press.  He is also a founding member of the Faith and Film Critics Circle.

Maurice Broaddus
Workshops and Lectures

Maurice holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology (with an undeclared major in English) from Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis. He works as an environmental toxicologist by day and is a horror writer by night. He is helping plant The Dwelling Place, a missional faith community. His areas of interests include religious studies, folklore, and myths.

Mike Gunn
Workshops and Lectures

Mike is a pastor at Harambee Church, and was a co-founder of Mars Hill Church in Seattle.  He lives in Renton, Washington, with his wife Donna and two children. The author of The Da Vinci Code Adventure, Mike also contributed HJ's journal After Eden for two years. 

James Harleman
Workshops and Lectures

James is a pastor at the Wedgwood satellite campus of Mars Hill Church, and for years adminstrated Mars Hill's communications department. He provides the leadership for various ministries including Film and Theology, Vox Pop, information technology, and the Mars Hill resource center.  He lives in Seattle with his wife, Kathy.

Melinda Ledman
Workshops and Lectures

Melinda Ledman is a graduate of Baylor University with a Bachelor's degree in English. After she and her husband Rob had their first child in September 2002, she began free-lance writing full time.  A long-time contributor to Hollywood Jesus, Melinda has just completed work on a book about Desperate Housewives.

Ken Priebe
Workshops and Lectures

Ken earned his BFA from University of Michigan School of Art and Design, where he majored in Film and Animation. He has a Classical Animation Certificate from VanArts, where he currently works as a manager and instructor. He is the author of The Art of Stop-Motion Animation and lives near Vancouver, British Columbia, with his wife Janet, who is also an artist, and their ten-month-old child.

Greg Wright
Workshops and Lectures

Formerly Writer in Residence at Puget Sound Christian College in Everett, Washington, Greg is the author of Peter Jackson in Perspective: The Power Behind Cinema's The Lord of the Rings (Hollywood Jesus Books, 2004), as well as Tolkien in Perspective: Sifting the Gold from the Glitter (VMI, 2003). He is Managing Editor for Hollywood Jesus.

Jenn Wright
Workshops and Lectures

Jenn is an editor and writer with degrees in Literature and Theology. She was a regular columnist for the online HJ journal After Eden until it ceased publication in 2005, and contributed to Two Roads Through Narnia (Hollywood Jesus Books, 2005) and The Da Vinci Code Adventure.  She is co-Managing Editor for Hollywood Jesus.


Since its inception, Hollywood Jesus has functioned quite nicely as a virtual community. Outside of HJAG, few of the staffers ever meet each other, and intense spiritual and working relationships have developed without the need for face-to-face meetings. So why get together at all?

Well, frankly, we all could do ministry better. And the ministry we do at Hollywood Jesus is difficult and demanding. Once a year, HJ's editorial staff will plan a series of panel discussions and lectures from others ministering and working in our field -- sessions that will encourage us in our work and better equip us for this ministry. And hopefully, by doing this in a group setting, we'll grow together as a team even more.

We'll soon be able to associate faces with names, and get to know who we're supporting and praying for a little better. And you'll finally find out if David Bruce is a real person or not!
Glad to be here,
The Staff