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  • GIVE | The Psalm of Howard Thurman

    Give Today our nation and world grapple with division, brokenness, isolation, and fear. There is a need for stories and wisdom that uplift, heal, and strengthen our souls and the soul of the world. THE PSALM OF HOWARD THURMAN is such a story, one that reveals the spiritual journey of Howard Thurman, a remarkable religious and spiritual leader. Decades after his death, Thurman’s life and work continue to speak to our lives and times. Join us in bringing forth a film that bears witness to the power of faith, the power of love and the power of a dream. YOU MAY MAKE YOUR TAX-DEDUCTIBLE GIFT HERE c/o Bethel Institute for Community Development Please note: "Howard Thurman Documentary" DONATE OUR PARTNERS INCLUDE Also CIVIL RIGHTS PROJECT, INC. CREATION SPIRITUALITY COMMITTEE GREELEY FOUNDATION HIGH POPLAR FOUNDATION RUTH M. BATSON EDUCATIONAL FOUNDATION SOUTHERN HUMANITIES MEDIA FUND SWARTZ FOUNDATION TRINITY CHURCH OF BOSTON ANONYMOUS AND INDIVIDUALS LIKE YOU!

  • Howard Thurman | The Psalm of Howard Thurman

    1/3 THE PSALM OF HOWARD THURMAN A film by Arleigh Prelow

  • ARLEIGH PRELOW | The Psalm of Howard Thurman

    Arleigh Prelow You can say that I was born to become a filmmaker. I took my first breaths just minutes from the Hollywood sign at Queen of Angels Hospital, Los Angeles, and grew up in the shadow of Hollywood, in Compton, CA. ​ Going to the movies was a regular part of our family outings. As the screen credits rolled at the beginning and close of each film, I searched for the names of the creative minds behind my movie experience. I was more curious about them than the leading actors and cast... Sadly I did not see many names of women, or persons who “looked like me.” ​ Still, I was drawn to stories told on screen, particularly the journeys of those who were counted out, then persisted and triumphed. I sensed the power of story to transcend our cultural, racial, and class differences and to connect disparate peoples. In time, I yearned to tell stories of black Americans who inspired us to become our better selves. ​ ​ READ MORE "Follow the grain in your own wood" –HOWARD THURMAN

  • About Howard Thurman 2 | The Psalm of Howard Thurman

    HOWARD THURMAN Continued "Community cannot for long feed on itself; it can only flourish with the coming of others from beyond, their unknown and undiscovered brothers." –HOWARD THURMAN In 1935, while a professor at Howard University in Washington, D.C., Thurman and his wife, Sue Bailey Thurman, led a pilgrimage of African Americans to Ceylon, Burma and India and met with Mahatma Gandhi. As a result of this trip, he formulated, a generation before Martin Luther King Jr., a non-violent approach to social change in America. This "love-ethic" informed one of Thurman's best known works, Jesus and the Disinherited, a book which later influenced King and other leaders of the Civil Rights Movement. At the close of the 1935 pilgrimage, looking down into Afghanistan at the Khyber Pass, Thurman experienced a vision of a church that would be open to "seekers of all colors and creeds." He was compelled to see if "experiences of spiritual unity among peoples could be more compelling than the experiences which divide them." In 1944, Thurman fulfilled his vision when he left Howard University as Dean of Rankin Chapel and co-founded the nation's first intentionally interracial, intercultural and interfaith church, Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples (Fellowship Church) in San Francisco. When segregation was still the law of the land and religious intolerance prevailed around the world, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and Christians saw the church as an opportunity to give form and content to Thurman's message on the possibility and value of an inclusive community. By 1953, Thurman had become a nationally and internationally respected figure and accepted the racially groundbreaking appointment as Dean of Marsh Chapel, Boston University. Because of the diverse campus population, Thurman found another "laboratory" for proving the urge of the spirit toward unity. During the Civil Rights Movement, Thurman acted as an advisor, counselor and mentor to Movement leaders. Mrs. Sue Bailey Thurman recalls that during many midnights, her husband would receive calls requesting prayer and counsel for the next "battle." Despite criticism that he should become more visibly active in Movement protests, Thurman was committed to addressing the inner march of congregates. He believed that personal spiritual renewal was important to the liberation process and that inward liberation was a prerequisite for social transformation. During his final years at Boston University, Thurman embarked on a "Wider Ministry," lecturing world-wide, and assumed a position as Visiting Lecturer at the University of Ibadan in Nigeria. After his retirement in 1965, and until his death in 1981, he directed the Howard Thurman Educational Trust in San Francisco, which provided scholarships to needy students and served as a base for his continued ministries and counsel. Thurman has left a tremendous library of readings, meditations and tapes that are actively used and continue to inspire new generations world-wide, who seek inner and social wholeness. ​ ​

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  • About

    About theFilm It started with a notion, a vision, a dream. I was twenty-something, beginning to make real a dream to become a media-maker, a filmmaker, an illuminator-artist. At core, to tell stories that expanded one’s sense of possibilities and touched the heart. Stories that inspired courage to be and to do in the way biographies of my youth stirred vast dreams within me. ​ A notion, a vision, a dream first came after discovering the wisdom of Howard Thurman on the pages of his book, Meditations of the Heart , and his personal story in With Head and Heart , his autobiography. When I heard Howard Thurman preach and later shook his hand in the basement of Fellowship Church in San Francisco the dream grew into a resolve to complete a film on him. The resolve progressed to action in 1994 after I survived a near-fatal head-on car crash In Boston. Since then I've been on a mission and driven by a belief that Thurman's words and story are forever timely for our lives and our world. ​ THE PSALM OF HOWARD THURMAN provides a unique view of the journey of the soul of a spiritual leader and a nation. Set against the historical backdrop of a racially and culturally divisive nation, Howard Thurman’s story and words give witness to one who encouraged wholeness and affirmed that our lives mattered–despite the world’s decree or our circumstances. ​ ​ THE PSALM OF HOWARD THURMAN aspires to be a sacred song– a lyrical work of beauty and truth, a creative utterance that touches, inspires, and illuminates. It skillfully combines on-camera remembrances of family, friends, and colleagues, evocative nature scenes, and rare archival images. An original music score propels the film’s powerful narrative. Interwoven is audio of Howard Thurman himself and the reflections of Thurman voiced by award-winning actor, Sterling K. Brown. My voice as filmmaker-narrator ponders the significance of Thurman’s life and words in my journey and for us all. ​ I marvel at how a notion, a vision, a dream have persisted and evolved. And with the film close to completion, they will be realized at last. – ARLEIGH PRELOW "As long as a man has a dream in his heart, he cannot lose the significance of living." –HOWARD THURMAN

  • HOWARD THURMAN | The Psalm of Howard Thurman

    Howard Thurman "Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." ​ –HOWARD THURMAN HOWARD THURMAN was born in Daytona, Florida in 1899. Early on, he developed a kinship with nature and a "hunger of the heart"–a curiosity into the meaning of life. He found refuge during times of loneliness and trepidation in an old oak tree in his back yard. It was while young Howard stood with his back placed firmly against the tree that he first felt the unity of all living things and engaged in what he would later call, "the religious experience." As a young boy Thurman was raised by a strong and affirming grandmother. She was a former slave who had a profound influence on what would become an essential part of Thurman's thought–that if theology is to have any validity, it must justly deal with one's life situation and must affirm one's worth as a child of God. ​ Thurman attended high school in Jacksonville, Florida. He later completed studies at Morehouse College, Atlanta in 1923 and the Rochester Theological Seminary, New York in 1926. In 1929, after serving his first pastorship in Oberlin, Ohio, Thurman returned to Atlanta to serve as Professor of Religion and Philosophy and Director of Religious Life at Morehouse and Spelman Colleges. Thurman felt that it was his immediate responsibility to inspire and encourage students in their individual quests for the truth." ​ READ MORE

  • About Arleigh 2 | The Psalm of Howard Thurman

    ARLEIGH PRELOW Continued After obtaining an undergraduate degree in Communications and Public Policy at UC Berkeley, I sought to develop my craft in telling stories– first in local radio in Portland, Oregon, and later in local television in San Francisco and Atlanta. While in Atlanta, I experienced life-transforming moments. My commitment to my honing craft and production sensibilities led to an Emmy award for my documentary SWEET AUBURN. I also said, “Yes” to following the way of Jesus, and was baptized in the baptismal waters of the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. And from the pulpit of that same church, I was introduced to the wisdom of Howard Thurman. I continued to gather screen credits from projects ranging from PBS series to museum exhibits. After hearing and meeting Howard Thurman in person, I imagined making a film on Thurman—the very person who nurtured and deepened my spiritual life and influenced the journey of countless others. When I nearly lost my life in a head-on car crash with my two young daughters, it became clear that I should finally move forward on that vision. Over time I discerned that my work as a filmmaker-artist was part of a broader ministerial call to be a caretaker of the soul. With that, I commenced a three-year study and earned a Master of Divinity degree from Harvard University. More recently I’ve become a Reverend in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. ​ It seems that Thurman and his influence have been with me since day one. I recall smiling when I discovered a particular photograph while researching THE PSALM OF HOWARD THURMAN. It's a snapshot of a group of students, young men who were chapel ushers at Rankin Chapel, Howard University. They pose, adorned in suits and ties, with Howard Thurman on the campus where Thurman served as Dean of Rankin Chapel. Just inches away from Thurman stands a young chapel usher named Leroy Weekes. Weekes later became a noted Los Angeles physician. It was Dr. Leroy Weekes who delivered me into the world on that early February morning in Queen of Angels Hospital. It seems I was destined to become a filmmaker— and to make the film, THE PSALM OF HOWARD THURMAN. –ARLEIGH PRELOW

  • GALLERY | The Psalm of Howard Thurman


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