A Minister’s Journey Away From the Church in Raw Faith


Shining an intimate light on an individual in order to reveal greater truths about life and the world, Raw Faith focuses on progressive-minded Portland, Oregon, Unitarian minister Marilyn Sewell, who over the course of two years grapples with the daunting decision to leave the church. Just as she managed to escape an unhappy childhood with an alcoholic father and an unwise marriage that produced two sons, this departure from a profession she adores is posited by Peter Wiedensmith’s empathetic and clear-sighted documentary as a therapeutic act of faith in oneself, God, and love. That last emotion—which she grew up fearing, in part because she equated it with her father’s cruelty—is attained by Sewell for the first time via an unexpected new relationship, whose origins she details in an interview that’s gracefully intercut with footage of the new couple planting flowers. It’s a portrait of the terrifying uncertainty wrought by change. In her bracing candidness about her guilt over prioritizing her career ahead of her family, and her dreams of finding the very type of compassionate companion that, as a minister, she sought to be for her parishioners, her story is eventually also one of deserved contentment—achieved through both hardship and brave, honest self-analysis.