JEFFERSON CITY, MO – First United Methodist Church of Jefferson City is a house of worship that is steeped in tradition. That much is readily apparent to anyone who sees its stately building, which dates back over a century, or walks through its historic neighborhood in the shadow of Missouri’s capital. However, although its roots go back to 1837, this church has its vision trained squarely on the future with a variety of youth activities, contemporary (as well as traditional) services and a modern worship area illuminated by an impressive collection of LED fixtures from CHAUVET Professional.
In keeping with First United Methodist’s forward-looking willingness to grow and change, the new lighting rig was installed after the church had just completed a renovation project that included the addition of new fixtures. “Typically a new lighting system is part of a renovation, but this one was installed after the project was completed,” said LD Stephen Ellison of Stark Raving Solutions LLC (Kansas City, MO), who created the new LED design.
First United Methodist’s lighting redo started when the church brought in Paul Laemmli as its youth minister and worship services director shortly after the completion of its original renovation project. Laemmli, who has a strong background in stage design, felt that the church could greatly enhance the visual quality of its live and broadcast worship services with warmer, more richly colored light.
“We had very minimal stage lighting in place at the time,” he said. “There wasn’t anything particularly wrong with this rig, but we felt that given the high quality of the renovation project in general, we could do much better. We wanted a warmer look that would engage people at our church as well as those watching the videos. So, we decided to replace the basic RGBW LED stage lighting we had with fixtures that could deliver nice white stage light and color changing to reflect different moods in a way that looked good.”
Laemmli contacted Ellison for suggestions on enhancing the church’s lighting design. Ellison’s recommendations included Ovation E-190WW 190-watt white ellipsoidals, which raised Laemmli’s figurative eyebrows.
“I was a bit skeptical about the LED ellipsoidals at first, because all of the other LED units I had ever seen had really high color temperatures,” he recalls. “Then Stephen did a side-by-side comparison for me of the Ovation fixtures with an industry-leading ellipsoidal that wasn’t LED. There was really no difference in color temperature between the two units, and the light quality was actually better with the Ovation, so we were sold. The operational and maintenance advantages of the LED fixtures are so much better; there was no reason not to go with them.”
Given the ok from the church, Ellison used 22 COLORado 1-Quad Tour RGBW LED wash fixtures, 16 Ovation E-190 WW 190-watt white ellipsoidals, and two Ovation F-165WW 160-watt warm white LED Fresnel fixtures in his new design. Some of the fixtures from the original renovation were used by Ellison for accent lighting and to uplight a fabric design element on the church’s back wall.
“We wanted to get use out of these fixtures for the sake of cost efficiency,” he said, “but as far as getting lighting that worked with the HD video, we relied on Chauvet to get the even wash coverage over the front of the platform and for all parts of the service. No one likes to redo something that’s just been done, but the church knew it was important to get this right.”
Still, even though First United Methodist was committed to “getting its lighting right,” the church wanted to minimize the impact on its newly renovated facility. “They had just spent a considerable sum renovating the area, with a new finished ceiling and other enhancements, so we wanted to be very careful to leave as much of the renovation work as possible intact when we upgraded the lighting,” said Ellison. “If we used conventional dimming and tungsten halogen fixtures, we would have to add a significant amount of wiring, which would have impacted the ceiling. This was one of the reasons why we went with Chauvet LED fixtures.”
Another reason, Ellison chose the CHAUVET Professional fixtures was their performance. “The power and punch of the Ovation 190s was a big determining factor in selecting them,” he said. “The throw distance from the first FOH position is 36 feet, and the second FOH is 44 feet; the Ovation products handle this without any difficulty. These units were very easy to blend for even coverage. They were no harder to work with than the equivalent tungsten halogen ellipsoidals, but the results were so much better.
“In order to cover the platform and the stairs in front of the church, I divided the Ovation 190’s into groups of four and mounted them all the way back for the stairs,” continued Ellison. “Then I used the remaining 12 fixtures to provide the platform lighting with four focused up stage, six as down stage washes, and two for center specials.”
Ellison used the COLORado 1-Quad Tour fixtures for the side and back lighting. The side light consists of six Quad Tours on each side of the worship area stage, while the back light is made up of six Quad Tour fixtures downstage and four upstage. To control the new, larger rig, Ellison installed a Jands Vista software console. “The throw distance of the Quad Tours works well with the lens spread to provide the coverage I was looking for from those locations,” he said, noting that he used half hats to minimize glare from the face of the back and side fixtures.
The two Ovation F-165WW Fresnel fixtures are positioned to the center of the back light to provide matching color to the Ovation E-190WW front lights. “With their variable zoom feature, the F-165s perform excellently in a variety of roles, from a tight center stage light to almost a full stage wash,” he said. “The throw distance worked well with the lens spread to provide excellent coverage throughout the entire area. I focused their hotspots just off center so as you open them they blend to cover the center area for preaching.”
Speaking for the church, Laemmli said, “Everyone is extremely pleased with how this project turned out. All it required was some outside-the-box thinking to redo a new lighting rig, but it worked. The new lighting system revitalized the renovation and resulted in something that will continue to serve our congregation well for years to come.”
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Chauvet, headquartered in the USA, is a leading global manufacturer of professional luminaires, truss and related equipment, fulfilling the needs of various industry sectors. Chauvet has four main brands: CHAUVET® DJ, CHAUVET® Professional, ILUMINARC® and TRUSST®. They share Chauvet’s unified strategy to pursue every market segment where it has a competitive advantage in terms of value, innovation and performance, with an emphasis on LED technology. For more information, please visit www.chauvetlighting.com