Jack & Patti Billingsley with Dr. Jimmy Epting at the Theatre Opening Reception
Just in time for North Greenville University’s first theatre production of the 2010-2011 year, last week marked the opening of the new W.S. & Frances Billingsley Theatre.
For years, NGU plays have been held in the Turner Chapel. Now, the theatre department is proud to announce its new theatre, which is equipped for professional productions.
The Billingsley Theatre is furnished with state-of-the-art lights and sound equipment to create the perfect theatre experience for every audience. The stage is surrounded by 230 seats, allowing for a 360 degree view of the show.
“This is not just a theatre for plays. This is holy ground,” said the Rev. Joe Hayes, executive director for development, at the theatre’s dedication ceremony.
The theatre is named in memory of Bill and Frances Billingsley who were a part of the North Greenville community for many years. Bill was a student at North Greenville after being called to the ministry in 1944 at the age of 34.
“My father and mother loved North Greenville,” said Jack Billingsley, Bill Billingsley’s son. “This school changed the direction of my family’s life, and we praise God for it.”
For seven years, the Billingsleys lived in Tigerville and were active in the community, always spreading the word about North Greenville.
“Everywhere my parents went, they talked about this school. They were North Greenville’s first recruiting department,” Billingsley joked.
Their dream was to see North Greenville develop as a beacon that would shine the light of God’s word.
In the 1800s, the northern part of Greenville County was known as the “Dark Corner.” Known as an area full of outlaws and murderers, the “Dark Corner” quickly gained a bad reputation. North Greenville, which originated as a high school, has strived to be a light in the ‘Dark Corner,’ and the Billingsley Theatre serves as yet another “light.”
“What a beacon this will be, a beacon shining from the ‘Dark Corner’ in South Carolina,” Billingsley said.
The Billingsleys, along with the Theatre Department, hope that this new building will win more people for the Kingdom of God.
“The real purpose of everything we do here at North Greenville University is to lift up Jesus Christ. We figured out a long time ago that if you focus on getting people saved, everything else will take care of itself. So we want to continue doing that,” said NGU president Dr. Jimmy Epting.
“That’s why God can have His way here: because this building is dedicated completely to Him and His purpose."
The assembled cast and crew of A Christmas Carol along with Jack & Patti Billingsley (center) and Dr. Epting.