Grey's Anatomy Part of One Church's Exploration of Spiritual Issues
Are there spiritual lessons to be learned from Cristina Yang et al?
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports today that this and other questions linked to Grey's Anatomy will be explored during a series of five weekly sermons beginning Sunday at Snellville United Methodist Church in Gwinnett County, Ga.
The show was not chosen because its overworked, sometimes oversexed, young hospital interns are great role models, said Dr. Richard Hunter, the pastor. In fact, Hunter is not necessarily a fan.
However, the show has captivated the young-adult demographic, and Hunter would like to see more representation of that age bracket in his pews.
"Even though I don't like the show and don't agree with the morals of some of the characters, it is the No. 1 show in that age group," Hunter said. "And if that many young people are watching it, I should be talking about the issues raised on the show."
Fowler said there have been special mailings to young people around the county, inviting them especially to the services. Also, the added emphasis on visual accompaniments and faster pace are meant to appeal to young adults.
It isn't unusual for a church to use popular culture for inspiration for sermons. In this case, though, the church is attempting to repeat the mass media's success with a specific demographic group.
At a 9:30 a.m. contemporary service, clips and stills from the series will be part of the presentation, along with dialogue and some role-playing based on the show's themes.
At the regular service at the same time in the church's main sanctuary, the sermon will deal with the same general issues, with less emphasis on the TV show.
Associate pastor Bryan Fowler said the sermons will take conflicts from the show and pose the question, "How can we deal with that in a Christian way?"
The presentation of the sermons will also be non-tradional, Fowler said. He and another assistant pastor will take on the roles of hospital chaplains, talking about how they might approach Cristina Yang and help her deal with some of her issues.
On the first Sunday, the featured Grey's Anatomy character will be Cristina, the show's ultra-competitive intern who sleeps with her boss, Dr. Preston Burke. The theme will be her perfectionism and how that can be relevant to people in real life. Cristina is played by actress Sandra Oh.
On subsequent Sundays, the featured characters and themes will be Izzie's loneliness (Isobel Stevens, played by Katherine Heigl); and Meredith's and Dr. McDreamy's relationship and sexual issues (Meredith Grey, played by Ellen Pompeo, and Dr. Derek Shepherd, played by Patrick Dempsey).
The series will also tackle George's insecurity (George O'Malley, played by T.R. Knight); and Drs. Burke and Bailey's efforts to balance work and outside life (Dr. Miranda Bailey, played by Chandra Wilson, and Dr. Burke, played by Isaiah Washington).
The concept for the sermon series grew from efforts among church officials to find a more effective way to reach out to young adults.
Hunter said young adults frequently turn away from religious expression, yet they are also seeking for spiritual truth in a highly secularized world. They also seem to identify with the struggling young characters of the television show.
The purpose of the sermons is not to make judgments on the show or its characters. The drama has become so popular because Grey's Anatomy deals with issues that are important.
As Hunter prepared for the sermon series, he said, the television series started to grow on him.
"The more I watched it, the more interesting I found it," he said.