How The Faith of Jimmy Stewart’s Parents Impacted His Life
By Allyson Vannatta, Senior Writer
Actor Jimmy Stewart faced adversity like anyone growing up, but the faith that was rooted in him at a young age carried through to the end of his days.
Stewarts family were members of Calvary Presbyterian Church of Indiana. Alex, his father, and Bessie, his mother, were both members of the church choir.
In an article written for Guideposts, Stewart remembers his father’s faith fondly.
“Dad was a Presbyterian, strong in his religion as he was in all beliefs,” he wrote. “He sang in the choir with a true but penetrating tenor voice, and someone once described the hymns as ‘solos by Mr. Stewart, with accompanying voices.”
His musical roots stayed with him as he grew up.
The actor spent time playing roles on Broadway, but moved on to movies in 1934.
Stewart starred in many movies, but his most notable would be IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE.
While filming this movie he realized the power of prayer.
“IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE, tells how in that movie he plead, ‘God… God…dear Father in heaven, I’m not a praying man, but if you’re up there, and you can hear me, show me the way. I’m at the end of my rope. Show me the way, God.’”
He continued, “As I said those words, I felt the loneliness, the hopelessness of people who had nowhere to turn, and my eyes filled with tears. I broke down sobbing. This was not planned at all, but the power of that prayer, the realization that our Father in heaven is there to help the hopeless, had reduced me to tears.”
In 1941, Stewart’s draft number was called, so his Hollywood career was put on hold.
Before leaving for the war, his father snuck a note into his pocket that he would read later that night. The note said,
“Jim I am banking on the enclosed copy of the 91st Psalm. The thing that takes the place of fear and worry is the promise in these words. I am staking my faith in these words. I feel sure that God will lead you through this mad experience…I can say no more. I only continue to pray. God bless you and keep you. I love you more than I can tell you. Dad.’”
After returning from the war, Stewart married Gloria Hatrick and the two were the parents of four children. Two from Gloria’s previous marriage and two of their own.
The family attended Beverly Hills Presbyterian Church where Stewart was an elder.
Their son Michael said they “Were raised with that small-town Christian Presbyterian ethic that nobody owes you a living. If you have bad breaks, get up and move on. That was the attitude of both my parents, and it never changed.”