In 1998, Connect Church in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, began under the leadership of Pastor Kyle Horner and his wife, Danielle. With a foundation focused on multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-generational worship, this high-energy, contemporary church continues to grow and evolve to support the community. Part of this evolution is not just adjusting to how the church serves, but also how best to improve their worship space in preparation for when they gathered again at full strength.
The church was known for creating a high-energy, culturally relevant and spiritually significant experience with each service. Leveraging a variety of technology — including lighting, fog and multiple video screens — services became an experiential moment that moved beyond the spoken word. However, when holding in-person services was suspended, the church took advantage of the time to improve the audio system that supported the overall experience and unified their space.
Viewing the situation as an opportunity, Pastor Horner and his team explored different ways of staying connected to their community. Part of the answer he and his team came up with was to use this time to renovate the church and gathering spaces.
“We had a plan to work on the sanctuary, café, kids’ spaces and the guest lounge. When people return, we want to give them something to be excited about, beyond just a fresh coat of paint,” Horner explained.
When considering the meaning of community and how they could incorporate it every day, they moved the stage from a position at one end of the room, which was separate from the audience, to its central location where it is now part of the audience — unifying the entire congregation with the worship service.
“We want to bring worship back into the center of the community and support the reason we gather each Sunday,” continued Horner. “It is central to who we are and why we come together. You get to look at one another and truly be part of the group.”
The challenge became how to execute this vision of a truly integrated worship and incorporate the right audiovisual components.
The church awarded the project to Whitaker Technologies, a 30-year Bose Professional solutions provider that had an existing relationship with Connect Church. Owners Kevin Whitaker Sr. and Kevin Whitaker Jr. proposed an exclusive Bose Professional solution.
In centering the stage, the first hurdle was addressing the size and configuration of the space, which is a long rectangle with 16-foot ceilings. Moving the stage to the middle of the room created a theater-in-the-round layout with seats surrounding the stage on all sides. Plus, it would be capable of rotating. This dynamic setup created audio challenges around the equal distribution of sound, as well as the need to address distortion and time delay.
By solving these challenges, the new sanctuary would have a more inclusive, comfortable feeling, and be more like a living room and less of a stage highlighting “a show.”
“I believe in presentation; the most important thing we can do when we bring people together is experience the presence of God. I believe how we present His word, and ensure it can be heard and understood clearly, helps people understand who God is,” said Horner. “They can read along and feel connected to the people around them. This helps us transition from spectator to community mode.”
With its unique setup and Bose Professional audio expertise, an audio design was developed to ensure an exceptional experience using the AMM multipurpose loudspeakers.
“We were blown away by the low profile, ease of installation and design flexibility of the new AMM product line,” Whitaker Sr. said. “We couldn’t wait for the church to experience the final result.”
Whitaker Technologies chose the ShowMatch SMS118 DeltaQ subwoofers to complement the AMM loudspeakers. This pairing created a more consistent coverage over a wide frequency range that adds to the crystal-clear vocal clarity during the services.
The team also chose the PowerMatch and Powersoft amplifiers to provide completely customizable modes, allowing the church to allocate the power to one or more output channels. Finally, the ControlSpace processor completed the package, providing the flexibility needed for the ultimate high-quality, yet easy-to-use sound system control.
The next challenge was upgrading the sound system in the lobby, boardwalk deck and children’s areas to ensure each member experiences exceptional audio everywhere they went.
This customized Bose Professional solution helped the church expand its reach for the convenience of all its members, even those running a few minutes late or dropping younger family members off at the children’s area.
With the reconfiguration of the sanctuary, the church now has 360 seats, and every one of them is positioned for a sensational audio and visual experience. The AMM products provide the ideal solution for the specifications and efficiently met their audio needs, with the loudspeakers providing the vocal clarity, tight bass, excellent pattern consistency and high sound pressure level the space required.
The previous system had been too loud because the distribution was off, so the upgrade needed to be loud enough to push to the back of the room, but comfortable and enjoyable to a wide variety of ages at the same time.
Because of the integrated audio solution of loudspeakers, amplifiers and processors, the conversion of refreshing and unifying the sanctuary — and the community — was complete.
Whitaker Sr. said of trying the sound for the first time, “We were all grinning ear-to-ear when we experienced this incredible audio solution.”
Pastor Horner also noted the partnership and efforts between Bose Professional and Whitaker Technologies were amazing throughout the process and provided “excellence” at every touchpoint.
With exceptional audio to help create a uniquely engaging space, the church’s dream of using the power of sound came true.
Whitaker Technologies, Inc. is a full-service design and integration dealer. As a Bose Authorized Dealer for 30 years, they provide services to create unique high-quality audiovisual environments for homes, houses of worship and places of business, www.whitakertechnologies.com.