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WXXI-TV

Monday, December 20 at 9 p.m. Independent Lens "The Calling"

(Rochester, NY) The Calling, a groundbreaking four-hour documentary series that follows the stories of seven young Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, and Muslim Americans who are training for religious leadership, takes viewers into the unknown world of seminaries to reveal the real people "behind the robes." Produced by a multi-denominational team of filmmakers led by Series Director/Executive Producer Danny Alpert, The Calling premieres on Monday, December 20 at 9 p.m. and concludes Tuesday, December 21 at 9 p.m. on WXXI-TV/HD (DT21.1/cable 1011 and 11).

It takes a true calling to make faith a way of life. The Calling follows seven dedicated young people on a dramatic journey as they prepare to become professional clergy. Embarking on life paths that demand tremendous personal sacrifice and commitment, these seminarians must uphold timeless truths in an era that values quick fixes and hot trends, and face a public that challenges the very relevance of their mission. A new look at an old job, The Calling presents a fascinating look at how faith is lived today.

The Calling follows its subjects from their first days of training, through years of study, and into their early practice as religious leaders. We see them within and beyond the walls of school, wrestling with the sacrifices they’ve made to pursue this path. They debate theology and philosophy, learn to deliver sermons, perform their first weddings and funerals, and counsel
people in crisis. We also get to know them as ordinary young people at the crossroads of their lives, struggling with doubt and fear, dating and family, and the myriad challenges of becoming an adult.

Although from different ethnic, geographic, and religious backgrounds, the young people featured in The Calling share similar traits: they’re charismatic and likeable, driven and self-reflective, confident yet humble. Each is seeking to reconcile the modern world with their ancient faith, balancing egos with
a desire to serve, and blazing new paths to leadership while preserving age-old traditions. As this new generation of religious leaders prepares to take its place in our society, their unfolding stories explore some of the current issues facing America’s religious communities. Islam strives to establish its American identity. The Catholic Church responds to sexual abuse scandals and the
demographic shift to a Spanish-speaking majority, while African American churches adapt to women taking more active leadership roles.

The United States is one of the most religiously observant and spiritually diverse countries in the world, yet mainstream media has surprisingly under-represented the significance of faith in the U.S. Pluralism has been explored almost exclusively in terms of race and culture, while explorations of faith often focus on scandals or extremism. The Calling underscores spiritual common ground and offers intimate portraits that provide a fresh and nuanced portrayal of faith in today’s America.

In addition to the broadcast, The Calling will be supported by What’s Your Calling? (WYC), a digital and community engagement campaign that explores the notion of “calling” from both religious and secular perspectives, through a variety of media and written commentary. Through this content and user discussion, WYC (www.whatsyourcalling.org) will engage participants in
conversations about why and how people are following their “calling,” seeking to make the world a better place through art, politics, business, music, aid, sports, medicine, philanthropy, media, religious leadership, and beyond. WYC will also provide participants with opportunities to take action around the issues and causes they feel called to by connecting with WYC partner
organizations focusing on service and leadership. What’s Your Calling? is a partnership between The Kindling Group, See3 Communications, Active Voice, and the Independent Television Service (ITVS).

To learn more about the film and outreach activities, visit The Calling interactive companion website (pbs.org/the-calling), which features detailed information on the series, including interviews with the filmmakers and links and resources pertaining to the film’s subject matter. The site also features a Talkback section, where viewers can share their ideas and opinions, preview clips of the film, and more.

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WXXI is the essential, life-long educational media resource for the Greater Rochester area. WXXI puts the community first with programming that stimulates and expands thought, inspires the spirit, opens cultural horizons and promotes understanding of diverse community issues. Log on to wxxi.org for more information about our services and programs.