Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Lancaster County Business Owners Won't Hide Their Faith If You've Driven around Lancaster County Recently, You've Likely Seen the Billboards Advertising Sight&sound Theatres' Latest Production, Which Is Showing at the Strasburg Township Theater through the End of the Year

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Lancaster County Business Owners Won't Hide Their Faith If You've Driven around Lancaster County Recently, You've Likely Seen the Billboards Advertising Sight&sound Theatres' Latest Production, Which Is Showing at the Strasburg Township Theater through the End of the Year

Article excerpt

STRASBURG, Pa. - It's a state-of-the-art theater in the middle of a cornfield that puts on shows exclusively about Bible stories. And on the day before Holy Week 2018 began, the buses just kept on coming.

"Who's excited to see Jesus?" an attendant at the door greeted the crowds with a hearty smile.

That's the name of the show: "Jesus."

If you've driven around Lancaster County recently, you've likely seen the billboards advertising Sight & Sound Theatre's latest production, which is showing at the Strasburg Township theater through the end of the year.

Although Sight & Sound is a for-profit business, ministry is at the heart of what it does.

It's never been about revenue, said Katie Miller, corporate communications director and the oldest grandchild of the founding family. Their mission from the beginning has been to spread the Gospel of Jesus.

"Bible stories are at the core of who we are and what we do," she said.

"It is our niche -the thing we bring that's different from what's expected in theater."And, so far, it's been successful.

Sight & Sound, which employs 650 people, is expecting 1.5 million visitors this year between their two locations in Strasburg Township and Branson, Mo. Attendance has continued to increase, and "Jesus" is mostly sold out through April and on most Saturdays throughout the year.

"Jesus" attendee Cynthia Myles of Baltimore is well aware that it's hard to find a theater like Sight & Sound. Why? "'Cause a lot of people don't support it. That's it. They don't believe."

On the national stage, it's unusual for companies to mix business and religion. When they do, controversy can ensue.

That happened in 2012 when Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy made comments about "the biblical definition of the family unit" and sparked a national backlash, including calls for a boycott.

But in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch Country, Sight & Sound is far from alone in mixing religion and business.

Martin's Trailside Express is a 24/6 truck stop. Visit the East Earl business any time of day or night Monday through Saturday.

But late Saturday night, the store sends its employees home until it reopens at 4 p.m. Sunday.

"It's nice to have that downtime," said owner Judy Weaver. "It feels good to us." Her employees like having the time to go to church (or not). She thinks it's important to give them time to relax and refocus.

Does she lose money? Maybe.

She thinks Sunday would be a busy day if they were open. …

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