Faith Counts Video Contest Winners Announced in Ohio

Sister Harkness meets with ESL school, resettlement agency

News Release

Winners have been announced in the annual Faith Counts “Film Your Faith” video contest. An awards presentation was held during a dinner Friday night, September 14, 2018, in Columbus, Ohio, at the 69th Annual Religion News Association Convention.   

 

For the third year in a row, prizes were awarded for original videos showcasing the power of faith in our society.

“It is breathtaking what these talented filmmakers are able to so positively communicate about faith in just two minutes,” said Kerry Troup, communications director for Faith Counts. “The work of this year’s awardees will truly touch anyone who views it.”

2018 Winners

Kyle Churchwell, a 20-year-old director, videographer and visual effects artist from Lucedale, Mississippi, won the $20,000 grand prize for his winning entry titled “Faith Is Knowing.”

The video features Tori Welford, a girl who was left in a trash can by her birth mother when she was a newborn. She was discovered by her brother and was taken to a hospital. She was later adopted. 

In an interesting twist, the winning film reconnected Tori with her biological father, half-sisters and half-brother after it was posted on Facebook and viewed widely in her hometown. Her father reached out to her after he watched it multiple times and noticed a resemblance between himself and Tori. A DNA test confirmed that he was her biological father. 

"While creating the ‘Faith Is Knowing’ film with Tori, I knew that her story would resonate with people considering how miraculous it is,” Churchwell said. “It is amazing to be a top 10 finalist and grand prize winner, but the purpose of film goes beyond winning awards. It is about telling a truly compelling story in hopes of giving the audience a meaningful experience.” 

“It is an amazing feeling to know that Tori found her biological father through a film we created and posted online. To have that kind of impact on people's lives is my ultimate goal as a filmmaker,” he added. 

“I hope my story is able to help those that have felt like they’re not wanted,” Tori said in the film. “If they just keep their faith and trust in Christ, God does have a plan for their life.” 

Landon Mauricio of Ewa Beach, Hawaii, received $2,500 and an honorable mention for “The World Needs to Know.” 

The fan favorite award was revealed August 10. Cooper Anderson of Bend, Oregon, received $10,000 for “Shameless” after receiving the most online votes out the top 10 finalists. 

The panel of judges for this year’s competition included Rich Peluso, AFFIRM Films; Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, Archbishop of Louisville and past president, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops; Sister Sharon Eubank, first counselor of the Relief Society general presidency, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; Rabbi Joshua Bolton, University of Pennsylvania Hillel chapter; Steve Taylor, film producer; Kam Williams, Rotten Tomatoes critic; Matt Baer, film producer; Simon Rivera, 2017 “Film Your Faith” grand prize winner; Bob Waliszewski, director; and Baldev Singh, executive director, Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund.

Outreach

Sister Lisa L. Harkness, first counselor in the Primary general presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, attended the Faith Counts awards presentation in Columbus. While in Ohio, Sister Harkness also went on a couple of outreach visits on September 14, including meetings with Columbus Global Academy, an English as a second language school, and US Together, an Ohio resettlement agency that provides services to immigrants and refugees.

Latter-day Saints in the Columbus area have been involved in service projects with both organizations. The Church has also donated furniture and provided commodities to the resettlement agency.

Faith Counts

Faith Counts, LLC was organized in 2014 as a nonprofit, nondenominational organization comprised of faith communities representing nearly 100 million Americans.

FaithCounts.com encourages people of all faiths to share their personal faith stories and thoughts by posting to the website, sharing on social media with #FaithCounts or creating a video for the site. Faith Counts has nearly 600,000 followers.

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