SWU dedicates NewtonHobson Chapel and Fine Arts Center
Southern Wesleyan University dedicated its Newton Hobson Chapel and Fine Arts Center Oct. 23 in a ceremony that celebrated numerous individuals stepping forward in faith of what God can accomplish.
The new $5.6 million, 47,000-square-foot facility has a seating capacity of 1,200, including a spacious balcony and stage. It is also the new home for the university’s Fine Arts and Spiritual Life departments. Since opening in August, it has already hosted several cultural events and campus chapel services.
“All we had was a dream, no money and a brick,” said Dr. David Spittal, president of Southern Wesleyan University. “Now 147,153 bricks later, ponder anew what the Almighty can do when he works through men and women like you. We appreciate all those who gave financially and sacrificially to this project,” Spittal remarked in front of an auditorium filled with students, faculty, staff, SWU officials and members of the surrounding community.
Spittal recognized the dedication of the university’s trustees for seeing the $5.6 million project to fruition. He also recognized those whose names appear throughout the new facility, including Faith Newton Hobson, who attended the institution as a young woman and went on to become a beloved educator and close friend to the university. Spittal praised Hobson as a dedicated teacher, school administrator, community leader and friend to many, with an independent spirit, quick humor and a sincere love for people that has enriched all who know her.
“She is a woman of deep love for her savior Jesus Christ, she is faithful in prayer, persistent in her encouragement of others and a woman of action who seeks after God’s own heart,” Spittal said.
Spittal also recognized J.D. Fralin and his wife Loretta. He noted Fralin’s service as a member of the trustees’ executive committee who chaired the steering committee to build the new facility. Spittal praised the Fralins as “loyal friends of Southern Wesleyan University whose leadership, commitment and support has advanced the cause of the Christ-centered mission of this university and the future of the fine arts and worship in our lives.” For this commitment, the trustees gave a portion of the new facility housing classrooms and offices for the Spiritual Life department the name “Fralin Hall.”
Also recognized were Thomas and Joanne Phillippe for their instrumental role in completing the new facility. The Fine Arts area bears the name “Phillippe Hall” - named in honor of the Phillippes and in memory of their parents, Rev. William Phillippe Sr. and Oney Phillippe, and Donald and Hazel Cheesman; and in memory of a brother, William Phillippe Jr.
Dr. Charles Joiner, chairman of the board of trustees, praised board members for their 100 percent participation in the campaign to build the facility. Joiner also recognized Dr. Spittal and the SWU administration, faculty, staff, students, alumni, denominational and community leadership, designers, builders and other friends of the university.
“These kinds of accomplishments don’t just happen,” Joiner said.
Jane Dill, director of the Fine Arts Department, expressed her gratitude to all who supported the construction effort.
“We want to thank you for the new well-equipped classrooms, equipment, piano labs and the two-story rehearsal hall,” she said. “We are especially grateful for this auditorium – for the beauty of it, for the acoustics, and for how it will continue to inspire us along the way. We love this building and are so grateful to you for providing us this space which we can offer our gifts and our talents to our almighty God.”
Ken Dill, associate vice president for Spiritual Life and university chaplain, also expressed his appreciation to all who worked to make the new building a reality
“We see this building as a tool that will help us to reach women and men with the Gospel and to aid them in their spiritual growth,” he said. “The Spiritual Life department especially gives you its deepest thanks.”
Phillip Fritts, president of Southern Wesleyan’s Student Government Association, compared the auditorium in Newton Hobson to that of Folger Auditorium, remembering the noise made as people stood up from the old wooden folding seats and comparing them to the comfortable seating in the new auditorium.
“We reflect back in Folger where God has worked in many of our lives. A lot of you who experienced Folger know that there are times when God worked in your life and there are times you were able to meet others and you were able to relate to them. That’s no different for the Newton Hobson building. We look forward to what God has in store for us,” Fritts said.
Dr. Keith Iddings, university provost, led the audience in a litany of dedication and Dr. Jerry Pence, general superintendent of The Wesleyan Church, gave a prayer of dedication and benediction.
The speaker for the ceremony was Dr. Julius Scipio, a former SWU trustee and pastor of Royal Baptist Church in Anderson. Scipio received the Order of the Palmetto and the Jefferson Award. He and his son Isaiah established the Elephant Men, an organization that reaches out to troubled young boys. Scipio received the Doctor of Divinity degree when he came to address a commencement at Southern Wesleyan University.
Dr. Scipio shared his story of how God has blessed his life and ministry during his humble beginnings in rural Darlington County. He cited the influence of his parents and his wife Amanda, and encouraged the audience to let God direct life’s path for them.
The university continued the celebration that night with a concert of celebration and praise in the chapel featuring all of the university’s musical ensembles, as well as special guests.
For details on upcoming events at Newton Hobson Chapel and Fine Arts Center, go to www.swu.edu or call (864) 644-5408.