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Congratulations to Jerry Corlis, our 30-year member

             The congregation of New Church Family gave special recognition to Jerry Corlis, our longest-serving member.

      A thank-you card was presented to Jerry at our Aug. 28 Anniversary Celebration, honoring him for faithfully serving the church since its founding in 1986. He is a member of our board and also heads up our congregational care team, sneding cards and making telephone calls to the sick and lonely nearly every day.

   On Sunday, Sept. 11, we presented Jerry with a photograph album containing an enlargement of the above photo, and several others that Bob Austin captured at our anniversary celebration.

     Several other people in our congregation have logged 20 to 25-plus years of active membershiip.  They include Linda Nelson, Russ Van Allen, Sylvia Rose, Bonnie "T-Bear" Frazee, Willard "Bode" Boedeker, and Tom Brown.

     And let us not forget more than 70 past members of our congregation who have entered into glory over the decades.

This Sunday at church....Sept. 4

SEPT 4 --THIS SUNDAY at church.....
10 a.m. – Worship & Holy Communion with Rev. Donna Choate preaching. Monthly Benevolence Fund collection (The Benevolence Fund is reserved for personal financial emergencies and charitable donations approved by the NCF Board.)
11:30 a.m. -- CONGREGATIONAL MEETING -- Immediately after the benediction – NCF church members, please remain in the sanctuary for a brief (10 minute) Special Congregational Meeting to elect an interim board member who also will serve aa board secretary from now until our Annual Meeting in February 2017. Bob Austin, currently taking board notes as a volunteer, has asked to be elected.
11:45 a.m. – FIRST SUNDAY POTLUCK LUNCH -- Bring a favorite dish to share with your church family.
SCRIPTURE For SUNDAY -- Lectionary Readings (Revised Common Lectionary, Year C): Jeremiah 18:1–11 or Deuteronomy 30:15–20; Psalm 139:1–6, 13–18 or Psalm 1; Philemon 1–21; Luke 14:25–33

DeLand Pride -- Nov. 13


Several West Volusia merchants and activists are making plans for a Nov. 13 DeLand Pride event to raise funds for a proposed GLBTQ Community Center.

The New Church Family board of directors has voted to support this new campaign with a $150 donation for a sponsorship and vendor's spot.

Here is an outline of the event issued by the DeLand Pride group.

1st annual DeLand Pride Block party to benefit the Collective Cares LGBTQ community center
11 am-2 pm Collective's Soul Brunch  at Cafe DaVinci, $15 per person.

2-7pm Block Party on Georgia Aveenue, downtown DeLand. Free but donations are very welcome. The block party will include LGBTQ vendors, food trucks, live music at the Brunch, a  Block Party DJ from 3:30 to 5:30pm; drag show at 5:30 pm at Cafe DaVinci
Vendors and Sponsors -- please go to our website to download the forms. Thank you!

NCF Timeline -- 1986-2018

Here are highlights of our church’s journey, 1986 – 2016
1981-1983 – Rev. Art Fleschner, pastor of 2-year-old Joy Metropolitan Community Church in Orlando, visits Daytona to start new church, Blessed Redeemer MCC. After Rev. Art moves away, attendance at the Broadway storefront falls off and the church disbands November 1983.
1986 – Rev. Jean Levy, a clergy student, arrives from Jacksonville in February with partner Barbara Stumpf and they start up St. Peter’s MCC. Worship is held first in a Daytona apartment on Brentwood Avenue and later in the Unitarian Society’s library in Ormond Beach. Jerry Corlis is among the pioneers and today remains our longest active member – may God bless him for his faithfulness.
1987 -- Rev. Ted Morgan becomes our 2nd pastor in December and St. Peter’s expands its worship service into the main Unitarian sanctuary.
1989 – Several guest clergy preach at St. Peter’s during a pastoral search, including Jimmy Brock, Linda Beane, Tom Bigelow, Judy Davenport and Ken Klaus. In September 1989, Rev. Bob Finch and his partner Michael Smolen take over the ministry, and the congregation, at the suggestion of Al Steady, changes the church’s name to HOPE MCC. The congregation grows to about 30.
1992 -- Rev. Stephen Steele and partner Darrell Rose arrive in June and lead our church into more active social-justice ministry. They organize a counter-demonstration to protest a KKK rally at Daytona Beach City Hall.
1993 – A Hope group travels to Washington D.C. for a National March for Gay Liberation, which draws 1 million participants. Rev. Steve performs a holy union in Daytona for two gay lawyers in December 1995; hundreds attend the ceremony. He also starts a Sunday morning service at Lambda Center to supplement the Ormond evening service.
1996 – Rev. Steve negotiates a large gift from the estate of Larry Vion, a church member fatally beaten in an Ormond burglary. The gift provides the church with a parsonage and a substantial Building Fund. In 1997, Rev. Steve resigns and relocates to Tampa Bay area.
1997 – MCC Moderator Troy Perry appoints Rev. Lee Carlton as Hope’s 5th pastor. Rev. Lee purchases a former funeral home and a block of land at 500 S. Ridgewood Ave. for $200,000, giving Hope its first building of its own. By Christmas Eve, a $100,000 remodeling project is complete and Hope holds its first service at its new location.
1998 – MCC Moderator Troy Perry in May dedicates “Hope Center” and a church choir “Voices of Hope” is formed by music minister Tim Ryan. Sally Brayton and helpers establish a church pantry that distributes groceries and clothes to nearly 100 people a week. Tom Brown starts Word of Hope, a quarterly newsletter.
1999 – Rev. Lee retires, succeeded by Rev. Jim Lynch and partner Terry Lee Ousley. The church expands its music ministry, stages holiday cantatas and presents concerts by several touring artists, including Marsha Stevens and Rob Nicewarner (now performing as Jason & DeMarco. The church expands its sanctuary by removing an interior wall.
2002 – When Rev. Jim resigns, Rev. Ruth Jensen of First Coast MCC in St. Augustine steps in as interim pastor, serving both churches for nearly a year.
2003 – MCC elevates Hope from “New Work” to “church” status, giving it authority to hire its own pastor. In September, the congregation affirms Rev. B.J. “Beau” McDaniels as its 8th pastor. Rev. Beau shores up the church financially by purchasing its parsonage. She expands the church’s community outreach, visiting campuses, attending Guild dinners and campaigning for improved AIDS services. Our newsletter goes online as “Word Up.”
2007 – A challenging year. Five church members bypass our congregation and file a confidential complaint with the MCC Board of Elders, challenging Rev. Beau’s leadership. MCC officials keep the complaint secret, but documents released by Rev. Beau indicate it is basically a personality clash. MCC suspends Rev. Beau and orders the church to fire her. The membership refuses, and instead, disaffiliates from MCC. With attendance and finances dwindling, the church sells its Ridgewood building and meets temporarily at Daytona State College.
2008 – In January, the church reorganizes under a new non-profit charter and renames itself New Church Family. It signs a lease for a storefront at 815 Beville Road, South Daytona. Later, it affiliates with several other ex-MCC churches, the International Christian Community Church.
2009 – NCF launches One Daytona, an independent secular non-profit, to hold a Stonewall anniversary concert and start a GLBT scholarship program. Later, the group sells its name to Daytona International Speedway and renames itself Volusia-Flagler Rainbow Alliance.
2012 – New Church Family moves west, buying 3520 W. International Speedway Blvd. near I-4 from the Volusia Building Industry Association for $287,500. Halifax Urban Ministries is designated as our "successor corporation" in the event the church ever disbanded.
2013 – Rev. Beau retires after nearly 10 years as pastor, a record for our church. She is replaced by Rev. Susan Roth, our former associate pastor. As our congregation grows, we begin holding monthly dances, weekly Bible study and other activities. We launch a Facebook group and a website, We leave ICCC and become a nondenominational church.
2015 – NCF updates its bylaws and names Rev. Donna Choate to a new position, lay leader. Soon after the U.S. Supreme Court legalizes gay marriage nationwide, Rev. Susan begins marrying gay couples at our church.
2016 – Rev. Susan retires, and Rev. Donna is promoted to interim pastor.

2017 -- Rev. Donna Choate is affirmed as pastor.

2018 -- Rev. Donna is reaffirmed as pastor through January 2020.

(Compiled by Tom Brown & Jerry Corlis)

NCF Board Minutes -- Aug. 14, 2016

New Church Family Board Meeting – Minutes -- August 14, 2016

Board Members present: Deb Ramsay, Presiding; Reverend Donna Choate; David Low; Jerry Corlis; Jeff DeYoung. Guests present: Bob Austin; Tom Brown; Pat Miller; Bonnie Frazee; Deb Porter; Cindy Parker; Heather Choate; Glen Foley.

1. Deb Ramsay called the meeting to order at 11:54 am. Opening prayer by Reverend Donna Choate.

2. Acceptance of the agenda – Jeff DeYoung motioned to accept, David Low seconded, passed.

3. Acceptance of prior month minutes – Jeff DeYoung motioned to accept, Jerry Corlis seconded, passed.


4. Pastor Report – Approved July report.

5. Treasurer's Report – accepted as read.

6. Building Report – Jeff DeYoung reported the following: Air Conditioner taken care of, front entrance almost done. Reverend Donna talked about the outside lights with some still needing to be fixed. Bleach has not been put in overflow drains in attic as of yet.


7. Church Security Update – Jeff DeYoung reported that all locks have been changed, keys assigned, signed for and personal security codes issued.

8. T-Shirt Update – The T-Shirts are in that the Board approved at the last meeting. They will be available to members for $15 each. We will replenish as needed.

9. Anniversary Party Update – Due to sickness the 30th Anniversary Party has been moved to the Church for Sunday, August 28th. Tom Brown will have a brief written timeline of the Church to pass out to people. Slava is working on a video to be shown. It was decided to raise the amount of food from 50 people to 60 people. There will be tickets sold for various raffle baskets.

10. Volusia Pride Festival in October – We will once again do a sponsorship for $100 and rent a booth space for $25. T-shirts, jewelry, rainbow fans and bracelets, pamphlets, and raffle for a 21 speed bicycle will be at the booth. We will put on our Facebook page, Web page and announce at Church for volunteers to help with setting up, taking down and monitoring the booth.

11. Purchase of Safe Update – Talked about size of the safe and also getting a safe deposit box at the bank instead of the safe. Also, about the safe needing to be fire proof. Bonnie Frazee said she had a safe she would donate. Jeff DeYoung is planning to check on it. Tabled until more information is obtained.

12. DeLand Pride Block Party – DeLand Pride will be having a Block Party on November 13, 2016 and tailoring it similar to Volusia Pride's Festival. They are selling sponsorship and vendor spaces. Motion by David Low and seconded by Jeff DeYoung to purchase a $100 sponsorship and get a $50 vendor booth space. Motion passed. Deb Porter told the Board that Porter Chiropractic and Wellness would pay the $150 for NCF. They were thanked for their generosity. Bob Austin is in charge of the DeLand Pride event for NCF.


13. Board Members helping out with office hours – It was stated that Reverend Donna was working too Board Members helping out with office hours – It was stated that Reverend Donna was working too many hours and we needed some of the Board to step up and volunteer to help a few hours each week. All agreed to volunteer to help.

14. Vacant Seat on Board – It was decided that the Vacant seat on the Board needed to be filled. The position is for the Secretary position. Motion by Jerry Corlis, seconded by David Low to fill the seat. Motion passed. We will announce in Church that if anyone is interested in filling the Secretary position to let Reverend Donna Choate or Deb Ramsay know by August 28th. We will have a brief Congregational Meeting on September 4th to get the Congregation's approval of the candidate. The candidate must be a member in good standing for 6 months and attend regularly.

15. Advertising in Hometown News – Reverend Donna Choate told the Board that she had been talking to the Hometown News about NCF advertising in their paper. It would have to be a commitment of 8 weeks for $45 per week. It would go to over 10,000 homes. Motion by Jerry Corlis, second by David Low to proceed. Passed. Treasurer Jeff DeYoung told the Board that we had not used very much out of the advertising budget so far.

16. Use of building for National Transgender Day Celebration – Reverend Donna Choate has been asked if the building could be used for an event to celebrate National Transgender Day on November 21, 2016. Motion by Jeff DeYoung, second by David Low to allow them to use the building. Passed.

17. Team Leaders – Reverend Donna Choate talked about the Team Leaders and told the Board that the new system was working and more Team Leaders would be in place soon. She also stated that she was going to send handwritten notes to all members saying miss you, glad you are attending, etc.

18. Choir – Deb Porter and Cindy Parker volunteered to help start a Church Choir. They will be working with Dennis Brooks.

19. Free Wellness Day – Deb Porter and Cindy Parker want to start a monthly Wellness Day at the Church. It would be after the service. Chiropractic and Wellness, discussion about medications, etc. All items would be free to members. Motion by Jerry Corlis, second by David Low to proceed. Passed. A date would be announced later.

20. Volusia-Flagler Rainbow Alliance – Tom Brown asked for the use of the board room for their meeting. It was given to him to use on September 11, 2016, after service.


21.Set date for next Board Meeting – The date was set for Sunday, September 18th at noon.

22.Adjourn and Closing Prayer – Motion to adjourn by Jeff DeYoung, second by David Low and Passed.

Adjourned at 1:22 pm. Closing Prayer by Reverend Donna Choate.

Social Security update for same-sex married couples (August 2016)

The Social Security Administration has issued updated guidance for GLBT couples who are considering legal marriage or who have already entered into a legal marriage. Here is the condensed text:

Social Security celebrates the fight for dignity and equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in the United States and is committed to treating all Americans fairly and with respect.

On June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, holding that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry in all states and have their marriage recognized by other states. This decision made it possible for more same-sex couples and their families to benefit from our programs.

We encourage you to apply right away for benefits, even if you are not sure you are eligible. Applying now will protect you against the loss of any potential benefits.

We’re There for You When You Marry

Marriage is the start of a new chapter in your life. Your marital status is important for our retirement, survivor, and disability programs because you or your spouse could be entitled to benefits or a higher benefit amount based on the relationship to a worker. Children or stepchildren could also be entitled to benefits. For some surviving spouses, divorced spouses, and adults disabled during childhood, benefits could end if they marry.

We now recognize same-sex couples’ marriages in all states, and some non-marital legal relationships, for purposes of determining entitlement to Social Security benefits, Medicare entitlement, and eligibility and payment amount for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). We also recognize same-sex marriages and some non-marital legal relationships established in foreign jurisdictions for purposes of determining entitlement to Social Security benefits, Medicare entitlement, and SSI.

If you already receive Social Security benefits, you must tell us if you get married, enter a non-marital legal relationship, or divorce because your marital status may affect your entitlement to benefits. If we stop your benefits because of marriage or remarriage, we may start them again if the marriage ends. If you have questions about how a same-sex marriage or non-marital legal relationship affects your claim, please call us toll-free at 1-800-772-1213 or at our TTY number, 1-800-325-0778, if you are deaf or hard of hearing. Or you can contact your local Social Security office.

Whenever you change your name, be sure to report the change to us. Otherwise, your earnings may not be recorded properly and you may not receive all the benefits you are due. We will provide you with an updated Social Security card. There’s no charge for a Social Security card.
We’re There to Help if You Become Disabled

One in four of today’s 20-year-olds will become disabled before they retire.

Disability benefits provide financial support for disabled workers and their dependents, including our wounded warriors.
We’re There to Provide Financial Support During Difficult Times

The loss of a loved one can be both emotionally and financially difficult. Some widows, widowers, and children may receive survivors benefits to help them cope with the financial loss.

The number of credits needed to provide benefits for survivors depends on the worker’s age when he or she dies.

Unmarried children who are under age 18 (up to age 19 if attending elementary or secondary school full time) can be eligible to receive Social Security benefits when a parent dies.
We’re There For Those Who Need a Helping Hand

The SSI program provides monthly payments to people who have limited income and resources. SSI is for people age 65 or older, and for those of any age, including children, who are blind, or disabled. For more information, visit our SSI web page or read our publication, You May Be Able To Get Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

If you get SSI, the law requires that we look at your case from time to time to make sure that you should still be getting SSI and are getting the right amount. We’ll ask you the same kind of questions you answered when you applied for SSI. For example, we’ll need information about your income, your resources, whether someone moves into or out of your household, and your bank accounts. You should report a change when it happens.

Marital status
We consider your marital status when we determine eligibility and payment amount for SSI. Therefore, you must tell us about any marriage, separation, divorce, or death that could affect your SSI eligibility and payment amount.

Your spouse’s income and resources may count when we determine your eligibility and SSI payment amount. We pay a married couple where both individuals are eligible for SSI a couple’s benefit amount that is less than the amount that we pay to two individuals. If you’re younger than age 18, we may consider part of your parents’ income and resources in determining your eligibility and SSI payment amount.

If you become a parent
If you become the parent of a child (including an adopted child) after you begin receiving SSI payments, let us know.

How and when to report changes
Don’t wait until we review your case to tell us about any changes. You must report a change within 10 days after the month it happens. You should report a change even if you’re late. If you don’t report a change, you may not receive the money you are eligible for if the change means you should receive a greater amount. Or, you may get too much money and have to pay it back. For more information, read What You Need to Know When You Get Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
We Wouldn’t Miss Your Retirement Party

When most people think of Social Security, they think of retirement benefits — with good reason.

Social Security is a lifeline for most retirees, keeping tens of millions out of poverty. Fifty-one percent of the workforce has no private pension coverage. Thirty-four percent of the workforce has no savings set aside specifically for retirement.
You Can Count on Us to Be There

Your Social Security taxes pay for three kinds of benefits: retirement, disability, and survivors. If you are married or you entered a non-marital legal relationship, and you think you might be eligible for benefits, we encourage you to apply right away even if you are not sure you are eligible. Applying now will protect you against the loss of any potential benefits by preserving your filing date, which we use to determine when your benefits may potentially start.

When you start receiving Social Security retirement or disability benefits, other family members may also be entitled to benefits. For example, we can pay benefits to your spouse, unmarried minors, or disabled children. If you become the parent of a child (including an adopted child) after you begin receiving benefits, let us know about the child, so we can decide if the child is eligible for benefits. For more information about benefits for your family, read:

If you already receive Social Security benefits, you must tell us if you get married, enter a non-marital legal relationship, or divorce because your marital status may affect your entitlement to benefits. If we stop your benefits because of marriage or remarriage, we may start them again if the marriage ends. For more information, read What You Need to Know When You Get Retirement or Survivors Benefits.
When You’re Ready to Apply for Benefits

When you are ready to apply for benefits, you can apply for benefits online.

For more information about retirement benefits, read Retirement Benefits.

For more information about Social Security disability benefits, read Disability Benefits. You can apply for Social Security disability benefits online.

You can get a quick and easy benefit estimate based on your Social Security earnings record and more detailed benefit calculations on our website.

If you have additional questions
If you have questions about how a same-sex marriage or non-marital legal relationship may affect your claim, or to tell us if you are married, separated or divorced, please call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) or contact your local Social Security office.

This Sunday at church -- AUG. 28th

This Sunday at church, Aug. 28

10 a.m. -- WORSHIP & Communion, Rev. Donna Choate preaching as we celebrate New Church Family's 30th year of ministry. 

Opening hymn -- "We Gather Together to Ask the Lord's Blessing." (Lloyd on the organ)

Special Video -- Discovering Acceptance Then & Now -- A brief look at how New Church Family got started, and its journey through the 80s, 90s up to today. Produced by Slava Melnikov.

After Service -- A luncheon will be served in our sanctuary.  Join us as we share anecdotes about our church and its many colorful personalities.

$1 Raffle tickets will be available for two gift baskets featuring luxury watches and other items.  Also tickets will be sold for a raffle of a 21-speed bicycle, and newly produced "I Love My Church" t-shirts will be offered to $15 each.


Rev. Donna speaks at Social Workers forum

    Rev. Donna Choate offered a GLBT perspective at an Aug. 23 panel discussion organized by the National Association of Social Workers.

    Eleven New Church Family members were on hand for the "Unity/Diversity" gathering that drew about 70 people to the Pelican Bay Country Club in Daytona Beach.

     A moderator asked Donna if the GLBT community had experienced any changes since the June shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. The massacre carried out by a young man from South Florida claimed 49 lives.

     Donna replied she was gratified by the quick response of the Daytona community to show support and sympathy for the families devastated by the shooting. She noted that Daytona Police Chief Mike Chitwood, a fellow panelist, quickly organized an interfaith prayer service at the Daytona police station. That was followed within a few days by memorials at Our Lady of Lourdes church, the Bandshell and the Flagler Pier.

      But kind words spoken at the memorials have not dispelled lingering fear in the GLBT community. "For the first time ever, we are locking our church doors during services," Donna noted.

      She said the gay community has made great strides toward equality in recent years, but GLBT youth still face ridicule and bullying. Local gay life has not greatly improved in the wake of the shooting.

     A member of the audience commented that she still faces prejudice in three different ways -- as a woman, as an African-American and as a lesbian.  She lamented that GLBT kids too often are rejected by their parents, their classmates, teachers, principals and even their clergy. "They get kicked out of their churches," she said.

     "They can go to New Church Family," NCF's Pam Berdebes interjected.

       Chief Mike Chitwood said he urges his police force to make "sanctity of life"  their top priority. If an officer has to shoot someone to stop a violent crime, the officer also has a duty to try to save the criminal's life. "It's not our job to be judge and jury," Chitwood said.

        Rev. Phil Egitto, pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes, emphasized the need for direct face to face communication between diverse people, to help them overcome their fears and stereotypes about people who look or act different. He said a Table Talk session for small-group interaction will take place Sept. 24 at noon at Our Master's Domain church on Tremont Avenue, Daytona Beach.

     Janae Sapp, a counselor at Bethune-Cookman University, encouraged her fellow social workers to find out what students actually want before they attempt to set up campus-based programs.

   Judge Dawn Fields commented that judges need to be held accountable for their rulings. If defendants don't understand what is happening in court, they should ask a judge to explain it.

                             (Contributed by Tom Brown)

Pride Calendar 2016

Here is a schedule of Pride-related events coming up in Florida....

SEPT 23-24 -- SPACE COAST PRIDE, Melbourne. Friday, Kick-Off Party and Miss Space Coast Pride pageant. Saturday, Festival in Eau Gallie Arts District, Melbourne noon to 6 p.m. followed by a parade and then an After-Party 9 p.m.

OCT. 1-2, RIVER CITY PRIDE PARADE & Festival, Boone Park and Riverside Market District, Jacksonville

Oct. 8, SAT. Noon-10 p.m. ORLANDO PRIDE main events, Lake Eola Park, Orlando. Several preliminary events at Orlando clubs begin Oct. 2. Details:

Oct. 22, SAT. 1-5 p.m., VOLUSIA PRIDE, Old Fort Park in downtown Daytona Beach.


Job openings -- August 2016

Here are several job openings reported during August 2016 (as of Aug. 22)

COUNCIL on Aging, Volusia-Flagler, is recruiting certified nursing assistants. Full-time and part-time certified CNAs with a valid driver’s license, auto insurance, CPR training and a Health Certificate. Variable schedules are available. Full time 40 hrs/week includes benefits. FBI fingerprint background screening required. Mileage between clients is paid. Starting rate $10.50/hour with possible increase after 3 months of employment.

Apply in person at: COA, 160 N. Beach St., Daytona Beach  Mon-Fri 8 am to 5 pm. (entrance at back of building).


R.N.(Clinical Supervisor) – Full-time position with benefits. Based out of Deland office with ability to travel throughout Volusia County to conduct field work and perform starts-of-care and care plans. At least one year of home care and/or private duty experience.

Case Manager - Full-time position with benefits for West Volusia territory. Responsible for assessing client needs and monitoring the effectiveness of services provided. Conducts home visits and develops a professional, nurturing, caring relationship with clients. A four-year degree is required.

Bookkeeper (Guardianship Dept.) – Full-time position with benefits. Based out of Daytona office. Perfect for someone with accounts payable or bank teller experience. Must have clear background check and spotless credit history.

Substitute Site Managers – Part-time, flexible hours. “As-needed” positions at COA’s dining sites, senior centers and respite centers. Assisting with Meals on Wheels delivery, organizing activities, interacting with clients, and working with volunteers. East and West Volusia opportunities are available.

Please visit to download an application or apply in person at 160 N. Beach Street in Daytona Beach. Enter from Palmetto Ave.


Jeff Farance review of "Freeheld"

Film Critic
(''Freeheld'' is rated PG-13; critic's rating: 3 stars out of 5. This movie will be screened at New Church Family at noon on Aug. 21.)

Hold the high praise for ''Freeheld.'' What it warrants instead is simply to be seen.
Given its remarkable cast and the pedigrees of its creators, the 103-minute ''Freeheld'' should rate rave reviews. Sadly, that's not the case.
Instead, the particularly potent, true story it tells IS the compelling case for viewing.
Wiping away tears after seeing it, you're not likely to be focusing on the script's potholes or the sometimes histrionic perfomances. Rather the more likely reaction is a numbing, ''There, but for the grace of God, go I.''
In 2004, a veteran New Jersey police officer, Lt. Laurel Hester (Julianne Moore), is diagnosed with terminal cancer. She asks the local government officials, the Board of Freeholders, to assign her pension benefits to her longtime domestic partner, Stacee Andree (Ellen Page).
The board refused, explaining doing so would ''violate the sanctity of marriage.'' And then the smug, sanctimonious bastards gaze out at Hester as though they'd just done her and the institution of marriage a glorious mitzvah.
Screenwriter Ron Nyswaner handled the battles of gays at least a bit more deftly in ''Philadelphia,'' for which he received an Oscar nomination. Here, his characters are crudely drawn so even efforts by Moore and Page can't breathe real life, much less fire, into them. Director Peter Sollett, noted for his ''Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist,'' never manages to coax coherence out of the performances. And visuals likewise underwhelm.
One of today's finest cinematic villains, Michael (''99 Homes'') Shannon is crammed into a wimpy, one-dimensional police partner for Hester. Equally wasted are Josh Charles, Skip Sudduth and Steve Carell, who plays an annoyingly excitable advocate for gay rights.
Perhaps all of these deficiencies are deliberate -- attempts to underscore the power of the film's actual events. Nah, not likely.
''Freeheld'' is a deeply moving chronicle that, like its protagonists, survives even the most concerted efforts to hamstring it.


(FOOTNOTE from Tom Brown) -- After viewing this film, you may wish to hunt up a shorter 40-minute documentary with the same name. Directed by Cynthia Wade, the earlier "Freeheld," released in 2007 through Cinemax, won an Academy Award for best short documentary, as well as 14 awards from various film festivals. )



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New Church Family
3520 W. Int'l Speedway Blvd.
Daytona Beach, FL 32124

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