First United Methodist Church

Service Times

9am Contemporary | 11am Traditional

News & Devotions

fear // a cinematic prayer in plain language

fear from David B. Witwer on Vimeo.

“I think one of the first things that impressed me about Jon Tschanz were his prayers. They really stood out in the 11 o’clock services—these prayers that really made you listen and fit right into the liturgy but also used language in a different way. They used plain language, less churchy language, but they said so much.

These prayers also impressed Caroline Miller, who was a core member of Kinfolk at the time Breanne and I arrived. One night we were all gathered in the Coworking Space and Caroline got up to pray at the end of a Monday night Kinfolk service. What followed was a prayer about fear that took everyone’s breath away. When she finished, we slowly opened our eyes and looked at each other. We all loved Caroline, but I’m not sure anyone knew she could pray like that.

That night stirred something in me. I started to wonder what it would look like to film a prayer, not just get a camera and press record but really draw on the medium of film to recreate the feeling of being in the room when someone opens up their heart. And I wanted to start with Caroline’s prayer. I talked to my friend Kyle who had just joined Kinfolk about designing a set. I talked with Wally and Erik who had been coming to Pub Group about how to shoot it. And I talked with Andre after Cinnabar one night to make sure I wasn’t crazy for trying this. People kept jumping in and doors kept opening.

And then we filmed it. I got to sit with Caroline for about half-an-hour before walking to set and hear more about where the prayer came from when she wrote it. And she was magic. And a bunch of small miracles followed this project, like getting the best composer in Michigan to write us a piece of music (so listen to this with really good speakers or headphones please!).

Fast forward to this week, when it was finally time for this film to greet the world. After all, it’s a film about fear, which we’ve all felt a little more nakedly this year. But I didn’t make that connection at first, Jon did, and a few days after he pointed it out I realized it was time. So here we are to offer a prayer film, something I’ve never seen done quite like this. It’s a piece that offers hope and healing for this fraught moment in our lives—at least, if the Spirit moves. But the Spirit has moved from the very beginning of this project, and I’m just grateful to have followed the lead.” ~David Witwer

And if you’d like to read the prayer after, visit