Asbury United Methodist Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma, needed to make a change. They had completed a ground-up, extensive $27 million campus in 2004, the largest Methodist church building project in the United States.
However, church leadership still felt that their congregation was too scattered. At the time, Asbury served a multigenerational congregation with 8,000 members and had 3,000 people attending five Sunday services in four different locations. They wanted to focus on their two primary services, a 9:15 a.m. traditional and a 11 a.m. contemporary, and bring them both into their 2,800-seat sanctuary.
The traditional service was held in the main sanctuary, and the contemporary service was being held in The Venue, Asbury’s student ministry building on the south side of the campus. Rev. Tom Harrison and church leadership wanted to find a way to incorporate the contemporary service into the main sanctuary without compromising their traditional service.
Their current sanctuary was not set up for a modern service and was designed for their traditional services. The obvious solution was a renovation of their sanctuary to allow both the traditional and contemporary services the opportunity to utilize their beautiful sanctuary. This would require the addition of an Audio/Visual/Lighting system, as well as upgrading their current stage.
These considerations led to the next question of how to address the challenge of their traditional architecture while still upgrading the stage and keeping both the traditional and contemporary services without a complicated changeover?
The remedy occurred via a random connection at a WFX (Worship Facilities) conference where they were introduced to a Design-Build Church Construction firm in their own backyard, Churches by Daniels.
“They were walking by our booth and liked an image of our Victory Church project,” describes Rachael Rowland with Churches by Daniels. In discussions with Rowland, they decided to bring in one of Daniels’ trusted consultants, Donnie Haulk and AE Global Media.
“We do a lot of work with Donnie and AE Global, and the church liked that we could come in together to discuss both the stage redesign and the AVL upgrade,” said Rowland.
To facilitate this transition, Churches by Daniels undertook the $2 million sanctuary renovation with the ultimate goal of bringing in contemporary elements and still allowing the traditional ones to shine through, thus creating a cohesive and adaptable environment for worship without compromising sound quality or visual aesthetic.
The project began by removing the whisper wall, adding stonework to the back wall of the stage, and extending the stage closer to the congregation. LED lighting was added to outline the chancel, back wall, stage, overhead and hung in the ceiling. The system was updated with a media server along with new distro boards, as well as new carpet in the sanctuary and vinyl on the chancel.
By expanding the stage with the addition of a thrust, which brings the minister to step closer to the audience, it became necessary to raise the sound pressure level so the wireless microphone used would not create a feedback loop.
With these changes, the minister can preach in a more conversational manner and connect with the congregation on a more personal level, using the powerful sound system without needing to raise his voice to feel he is reaching everyone in the sanctuary.
New rigging and light pipes were added to support loudspeakers and new lighting fixtures. And AE Global replaced the audio system with one that would enable a louder volume and a faster changeover from their traditional service to the contemporary.
The environmental projection and video systems, new LED lighting system, and all the AVL systems are synced to one show control system, allowing for a seamless transition.
The new environmental projection system is key to changing the feel of the space. Adaptability and diversity are the key points of an EP. The result is so effective that the template used can have new graphics dropped in at any time, making the entire room customizable using imagery and light that can be changed based on a sermon series, a special event, or as a backdrop for Christmas and Easter plays.
Asbury’s investment in an EP system is adaptable and able to be used in both the traditional and contemporary services. As a tangible example, when they completed their new campus in 2003, they had moved their original stained glass windows from their former location to the small Chapel on the new campus. Many congregants were sad that the stained glass that had overlooked all of Asbury’s history was no longer a part of the central worship service.
The solution was the same one they used to make the sanctuary feel contemporary, Environmental Projection. Leadership was able to take high definition images of the historic stained glass and project them back into the architectural features in the sanctuary, with a powerful and beautiful effect. Stained glass windows are projected during the traditional service, and imagery that supports the theme of the service, such as a city skyline, is projected at the contemporary service.
“It’s the largest environmental projection system in a church,” comments Rowland. “They have an amazing vision for taking a traditional space and making it feel contemporary.”
Reverend Tom Harrison, senior minister, said on the church website that changes were made because “Asbury is on a mission to reach people for Jesus Christ.”
This project and the adjustments that were made ultimately accomplished the goal of keeping generations together under that same roof. Community is impacted as “the church” communes together as one and is not separated by age, ethnicity or any other real or perceived barrier.
What are your challenges and or barriers in your church? A timely renovation may be the answer to maximize the existing space and create new opportunities and avenues to reach your community and impact the world with the gospel.
Churches by Daniels, Inc. has been building churches since 1980. Over the years, they have served pastors and commercial developers from coast to coast with an unwavering focus on quality craftsmanship and commitment to their clients, www.churchesbydaniels.com.