Winchester pastor offers acting workshops
WINCHESTER — Mark David Kennerly spent years as an actor before discovering a call to ministry. Today, Kennerly is the pastor at Impact Christian Church in Winchester, where he is working to blend his two passions. Starting Tuesday, he will be leading weekly acting workshops through Impact for Christ Productions.
Titled “Introduction to Professional Acting,” there are separate workshops for teens and adults, all of which will be held at Impact Christian Church, located at 134 N. Loudoun St. on the Old Town Walking Mall. Each class costs $25, most of which will be donated back to the church.
The workshops were partly inspired by Kennerly’s children; two of whom he says have caught the acting bug. “I have this training and experience, so if my kids are interested in this, they should have the tools,” he said.
Kennerly emphasizes that these are not Christian acting workshops; they are open to anyone. “The art is applicable in any environment. Businesspeople, attorneys, teachers, anyone who wants to be more comfortable speaking or performing it will benefit.” However, he does note that people who take the class should anticipate that any material he gives them will be in line with his Christian values.
Originally from New York City, Kennerly’s first acting role was in high school, in the lead role of a play written by his drama teacher. He moved to Front Royal during his sophomore year, where he continued to hone his skills under the instruction of Warren County High School teacher Virginia C. “Ginna” Looney.
Kennerly attended college at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York and then went on to work steadily in New York and Hollywood for the next decade. Living the Hollywood lifestyle to the fullest, he states that he ultimately “crashed and burned” in the early ’90s.
During the 1994 Northridge earthquake, Kennerly said he felt a moment of clarity as the world was falling apart around him. “I needed to know who was in charge of everything. I had lived my whole life not knowing and not really caring if there was a God, but at that moment I needed to know who he was.”
He found Jesus about one month later, when he visited the church of a friend. He started to move away from acting as he became more serious in his faith. He said he felt God calling him to step back from it and ultimately toward the pastorate.
When he later felt called to start a church, he knew it would not be in California. At the suggestion of his pastor, he visited his former homes in New York and Virginia and ultimately felt Virginia was where he should be.
Kennerly had a vision of a congregation of people from all different backgrounds and nationalities. “When we look at what the bible says about heaven, there is only one congregation and everyone is in it together. We’re all free and we’re all equal and I think our churches should reflect that.”
Services started out of his home, and as the church grew they moved to larger spaces. They have been in their current location, downtown, for the last five years. According to Kennerly, it has been a slow growth, but he is proud of their diversity and the work that has been done.
Their community outreach includes a Christ-centered recovery program called New Heart New Start for those suffering from addiction as well as those needing help to move forward in life. The second floor of their building houses the Store House, a 5,000-square-foot area filled with clothes and household items that they offer to those in need. The layout is still being organized at this time, but Kennerly said he hopes to have a regular schedule set for it to be open this summer.
Kennerly is also working on a musical and a screenplay to produce through Impact for Christ. These projects, and the acting workshops, will be his first foray into the entertainment industry since moving back to Virginia 10 years ago. “I’ve felt a release where God is saying it’s OK now. I think it has a lot to do with where my mind was back then and where my mind and heart are now.”
To learn more about Impact for Christ acting workshops or Impact Christian Church, visit http://www.impact-cc.org.
Contact staff writer Hilary Legge at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or email@example.com
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