Christian Film Visionary Michael Catt has Just Months to Live
Updated: Jun 14
The retired pastor who helped launch the Kendrick Brothers to the top of the faith-based movie genre is battling terminal cancer.
Fans of Christian cinema may not know his name, but the industry would almost certainly not be as strong as it is today were it not for the efforts of Michael Catt. The former longtime pastor of Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, GA, is also the executive producer of some of the most beloved films among American Believers: Facing the Giants (2006), Fireproof (2008), and Courageous (2011). So, the latest update on his health situation will come as a heavy blow to many.
His daughter Erin Bethea, a Christian actress who starred in Fireproof and our inaugural feature Miracle on Christmas, announced in a social media post that in recent months Pastor Catt has "taken a turn for the worse." The prostate cancer he has been fighting for five years has spread and doctors recently found "a tumor in his brain stem."
The growth is inoperable and the radiation and chemo treatments he has previously undergone are unviable means of stopping it, leaving the family few options going forward, according to Bethea.
"Because of this, we have chosen to forego any future cancer treatments, with the goal now being to make him as comfortable as possible through palliative care for the few months he has left this side of heaven."
Catt, who stepped down from the pulpit in 2021, will leave a towering legacy in the Faith, having not only led Sherwood Baptist Church for more than 30 years as its senior pastor, but also having established Sherwood Pictures through that local body. It is that production company that became the vehicle for the Kendrick Brothers duo - Alex and Stephen - to write, produce and act in the aforementioned films, as well as their first one, Flywheel, which came out in 2003. Pastor Catt brought the brothers to Sherwood as pastors from another church, where they had all worked together, specifically with an eye toward making Christian films, something that was unprecedented.
What a plan it was! Their movies featured members of the church both in front of the camera and behind it, and more broadly helped pioneer an approach that still works in the genre: unapologetic faith storylines and low production budgets that allow for good profits at the theaters: Facing the Giants cost $100,000 to make and earned $10 million, Fireproof cost $500,000 and brought in $33 million, and Courageous generated $35 million off of a production budget of $2 million.
Their success made them number one in the genre for many years and charted the way for other Christian filmmakers, including Andrew and Jon Erwin of I Can Only Image and Jesus Revolution fame. Those two are now the top team in faith-based movies, but they cut their teeth as part of the crew on Courageous, going on in 2015 to bring Pastor Catt aboard as executive producer of Woodlawn, their first big-budget film.
In her social media announcement, Bethea requested prayers for her father and mother Terri - Catt's wife of nearly 50 years - and for the rest of the family, asking specifically for "relief from any pain and unexplainable peace" for her ailing father. She added that the family is trusting in God.
"We hope in heaven, where one day there will be no more suffering, pain, tears or death. Where we will one day worship at the feet of Jesus together."
Please join us at Christian Film Blog as we lift up Pastor Catt, his wife, two daughters and granddaughter at this difficult time: Heavenly Father, please comfort and strengthen your servant Michael Catt and his loved ones, drawing them closer to you and each other as our Christian brother prepares to cross the threshold from time into eternity, to be forevermore in your glorious presence. In Jesus' name, Amen!
UPDATE - June 14, 2023: Michael Catt died over the weekend, just weeks after entering hospice care. He was 70 years of age.