Ancient Religious Calling Unites An Unlikely Pair

February 8, 2009

Author: Duke Helfand

Source: The Los Angeles Times

Who could have foreseen what would happen between the Mormon filmmaker and the lesbian priest?

Not Douglas Hunter, even after he trained his camera on the Rev. Susan Russell.

Maybe not even Russell, who had undergone a transformation from one-time suburban soccer mom to priest and outspoken champion of gay rights.

The friendship that took root when Hunter asked Russell to play the central role in his documentary about gay marriage and theology would lead two people from different worlds to a new understanding of themselves and their faiths.

"We're all telling the same stories about God's work in our lives," said Hunter, 40, a father of three from Pasadena who discovered Russell over the Internet.

Technology might have provided the bridge, but it was an ancient religious calling that drew Hunter to Russell, a senior associate priest at All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena.

Hunter felt a religious obligation to cross the same boundary Jesus is said to have traversed 2,000 years ago when he spoke of embracing the outsider.