BRANSON — In 2012, Branson, Missouri, celebrated 100 years. When Reuben Branson first arrived in the area, he couldn’t have imagined the growth of the city as an entertainment capital serving 7.5 million guests each year, much less the impact of the Christian witness of the residents.
Growing up in Branson, Brad Thomas, senior vice president of Silver Dollar City Attractions and a member of Second Baptist Church in Springfield, has seen many of those changes.
“I’ve seen exponential growth in Branson,” Thomas said. “The stores, restaurants, roadways are bigger and better today. The quality of offerings has grown, too. We give people choices in their accommodations from economy to luxury.”
What has not changed, according to Thomas, are the values of the people of Branson.
“I’ve found our values consistent through the years,” he said. “We still talk about God and we expect to see the flag and a patriotic statement in each of the shows. I’m proud of that.”
Thomas is also proud of the mission and values in his work with the Silver Dollar City attractions which includes the Showboat Branson Belle, the Whitewater Water Park, and Silver Dollar City.
“We deliver wholesome family entertainment and activities,” Thomas said. “Our mission statement, ‘We Create Memories Worth Repeating,’ plus core values such as providing shared-experiences that bring families closer together are delivered in a manner consistent with Christian values and ethics.
“We want to do our work at Silver Dollar City in a way that is pleasing to Jesus. Treating people the way Jesus treated people is how we do business.”
Phil Huber, director of operations at the Branson Sight and Sound Theatre and member of Talking Rock Road Baptist Church in Branson West, agreed that the Christian influence is strong in Branson.
“The way we interview,” he said, “is a reason that we stay true to our mission statement. We look at the spiritual life of prospective employees. We interview for character, commitment and competence. We get the cream of the crop because they know what matters.”
Huber explained the mission statement.
“Our purpose at the Sight and Sound Theatre is to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ and sow the Word of God into the lives of our customers, guests, and fellow workers by visualizing and dramatizing the Scriptures,” he said.
After the long-running Noah and The Miracle of Christmas, the current show is Joseph.
“Because of the story of Joseph and forgiveness,” Huber said, “we have seen a tremendous impact in the lives of people.”
“Following one performance,” Huber said, “one of our retail people noticed a couple in tears standing by the door and she asked if she could help. She found out that it was a brother and sister who had been at odds for more than 25 years. The production of Joseph sparked reconciliation.”
Huber had a tear in his eye as he told an impact story relayed to him by one of the sales staff.
“My sales rep talked to one older gentleman,” Huber said, “who walked out of the show with a totally changed agenda. He said one of the first things the man did was to contact his daughter after being estranged for more than eight years to wish her a happy birthday. God is using the talents of many to have an impact on the community.”