Observers say Sight & Sound Theatre reaches people who might never step foot in a church
What started with a slide projector, screen, turntable and microphone has become the leading faith-based theater in the nation, attracting some 800,000 patrons a year.

Glenn Eshelman, founder of Sight & Sound Theatres in Lancaster County, Pa., said he and his wife, Shirley, stepped out in faith 30 years ago with their first production, The Wonder of It All.

Today he says that title has become a fitting way to describe the ministry's growth and popularity. "What you see in the natural absolutely should not be," said Eshelman, a former dairy farmer and Church of the Brethren minister. "It is a miracle."

Sight & Sound's Millennium Theatre, nestled in Lancaster County's Amish farm country, is considered the largest faith-based live theatre in the U.S. Some even refer to it as "the Christian Broadway." To Eshelman, it's a way to reach people who might never sit through a traditional sermon.

Ruth was on stage at the Millennium through Oct. 22. Complete with a 68-member cast and more than 35 animals, the show carried the audience through Ruth and Naomi's tumultuous journey of faith, love, loss and redemption. The gleaning fields of Boaz came to life on a 300-foot, wraparound stage illuminated by the largest moving light system on the East Coast.

"There is a strong need in the world today for this type of a ministry," Eshelman said. "For too long, the world has looked at Christian drama as bathrobes and half-cut wigs. Why should it not be equal to that of Broadway, equal to that in Las Vegas."

Sight & Sound Theatres, which includes the more intimate, 643-seat Living Waters Theatre also in Lancaster County, uses innovative production technology while remaining faithful to its mission. Patrons return year after year for more.

Lancaster County resident Beth Fisher said she has visited Millennium Theatre dozens of times. "The message is the draw," she said. "I love how they represent the Bible so well. [The stories] are not stretched out of proportion."

Though it isn't a traveling theater, Sight & Sound has reached theatergoers outside the U.S. "Delegations from China have visited the Millennium Theatre in hopes of taking Noah the Musical to the Olympics to represent Christianity amongst the other religions," Eshelman said. "Impossible logistics deterred it from taking place."

The theater has also helped ministries from within the U.S. develop their drama departments. "Churches are doing [theatre] with excellence, not to compete with the world, but so that it would be intriguing for the world to come in and say, 'Let me see,'" said producing director Earl Grove. "We're just doing it in the culture in the way that the culture can understand it."

Area ministers agree that Sight & Sound is an effective evangelism tool. "Many people that won't come to a church will come to a theatre," said Tommy Stoudt Jr., pastor of Victory Church in Lancaster. "They play a critical role in reaching people."

"The Bible speaks that the body has many members," Eshelman said. "I feel like we are an arm or member of the body of the church that presents the gospel in this fashion. [It is] all part of God's final program here to bring in the final harvest." Psalms of David is on stage at the Living Waters Theater through December. Noah the Musical is to open in a Branson, Mo., Sight & Sound Theatre in June 2008.
Paula Hornberger in Lancaster County, Pa.

Best Magazine Deal. Subscribe now and get 3 magazines for the price of 1. Get Charisma, SpiritLed Woman and Ministry Today, all for $24. YES - I want this deal!

3 Reasons Why you should read Life in the Spirit. 1) Get to know the Holy Spirit. 2) Learn to enter God's presence 3) Hear God's voice clearly! Click Here to draw closer to God!

Your Turn

Comment Guidelines
View/Add Comments
  • Donald Trump certainly needs your prayers.

    Why You Must Pray for Donald Trump

    Here are eight ways I plan to intercede for President Trump regularly.

  • Here's a prophetic word for Washington, D.C.

    Prophecy: The Lord Is Raising Up Daniels in DC

    I believe we're on the precipice of a Third Great Awakening the Lord spoke to my heart about in ...

  • Inner Healing Is the Fruit of the Spirit

    Inner Healing Is the Fruit of the Spirit

    I have been puzzled about the subject of inner healing for some time.

  • 2017 is the year that swords will clash.

    Prophetic Word: 2017 Will Bring a Clashing of Heaven and Hell

    "This is a time to cross over and not pull back."

  • Roadblock

    6 Roadblocks That Will Stop Your Spiritual Growth

    God wants you to grow in your faith, but many of us get stuck along the way.

  • Bishop Eddie Long died at 63.

    Bishop Eddie Long Dead at 63

    "Although his transition leaves a void for those of us who loved him dearly, we can celebrate ...

  • The devil will try to silence you in any way he can. Don't give him the satisfaction.

    Satan's 2 Most Potent Lies to Render You Ineffective

    There's something in you so powerful that Satan doesn't want it out. Kyle Winkler reveals ...

  • Foot washing

    Shaking the Gates of Hell With a Basin of Water and a Towel

    "When I saw His foot, I knew He had come to take back territory the enemy had stolen from His ...

  • Are you willing to volunteer for God's offensive army?

    Prophetic Word: Preparing for God's World War 3

    God is searching for soldiers of the cross who are willing to volunteer for His offensive army.

  • Continue Your Journey with the Holy Spirit

    Continue Your Journey with the Holy Spirit

    Follow God on the most fulfilling journey of your life with Encounter the Holy Spirit! Break away from past hurts and press into the One who wants a personal encounter with you.

  • Dream the Unimaginable In His Presence

    Dream the Unimaginable In His Presence

    Reach your full potential and be led by His Spirit. In His Presence takes you to a deeper understanding of who God is and how he communicates with us.

  • Set Your Spirit on Fire

    Set Your Spirit on Fire

    Receive the power and gifts that come through the Holy Spirit Baptism. Don’t go empty-handed; accept all that He has for you! His power is available to those who ask.

  • Put on the Full Armor of God

    Put on the Full Armor of God

    Break every stronghold with the power of the Holy Spirit. Use the power of your tongue to declare and decree the Word of God. Witness heaven move on your behalf.

Use Desktop Layout
Charisma Magazine — Empowering believers for life in the Spirit