- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 13, 2005

WOLFTOWN, Va. — The director and members of the film crew crept closer to the deer, marveling at their luck that it was just standing there.

There was plenty of noise in the area: the clang of hammers striking metal stakes, the chatter of men sweating in the humid field, the raising of a large red-and-white tent.

Then the film crew realized after a couple of minutes that the deer was a lawn ornament, which can happen when a New York City film crew producing a documentary for the Discovery Times Channel comes to Madison County to film a tent revival.

The series, scheduled to air in September, is titled “Only In America.” It includes an episode on religion featuring Pastor Anthony Wynn, who has brought his tent revival from Tennessee to Wolftown for the past 12 years.

Relations between the independent production company and the country preacher appeared to be fine, despite the differences in backgrounds. The easygoing Mr. Wynn, in a mellow Tennessee drawl, spoke with equal kindness of the film crew and the members of Wolftown Pentecostal Chapel, which serves as host for the revival.

“They just treat us like family,” said Mr. Wynn, who prefaces many of the men’s names with “brother.”

The family includes a crowd of 200 or more worshippers, some of whom are from Mr. Wynn’s Tennessee congregation. The recent revival was held during evenings in a field off Route 662.

Pastor Jeff Shifflett, who leads the Wolftown church, described a typical tent meeting as an open-air service with singing, praying, a sermon and an altar call.

At a recent service, a couple dozen people gathered at a wooden stage, some kneeling and others standing with arms raised, ready to dedicate themselves to God. Pastor Justin Payne, Mr. Wynn’s nephew and the leader of a church in Pennsylvania, placed his hands on heads and prayed over the worshippers. He often sounded close to tears.

“Lord, I didn’t just come to play church tonight,” Mr. Payne shouted, holding his Bible in his right hand, the microphone in the other. A chorus of “I need you, Lord, more than yesterday” played in the background, as members of the congregation said their prayers.

Sometimes parishioners speak in tongues — usually unidentifiable languages spoken in the throes of prayer.

Jon Ritchie, the film crew’s soundman, had never been to this part of Virginia nor seen a tent revival. He said that making the one-hour show, which will last only 45 minutes without the commercials, is a difficult task because of the complicated topic.

He also said one of the biggest challenges is capturing the complexities while pleasing those who want things fast.

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