How does a large and rapidly growing house of worship still maintain an intimate small church feel? While there is no one answer that applies in all situations, the leaders of First Redeemer Baptist have come up with an approach that works well at their 2000-seat church.
One of the fastest growing churches in the Southeast, First Redeemer has nevertheless maintained a relaxed atmosphere that makes it easy for worshippers to feel connected. A variety of steps, from having small breakout worship groups, to serving Wednesday night suppers, to holding contemporary and traditional services, have contributed to making each individual worshipper feel welcome.
In keeping with its welcoming philosophy, First Redeemer had a clear objective when it hired Paragon 360 to remodel its sanctuary: create a space that makes everyone feel at home. The Springfield, MO company accomplished this goal in impressive fashion through the skillful use of architectural, scenic and staging elements accented by LED washes and uplighting fixtures from Chauvet Professional.
Paragon created a completely modular riser for the church’s 125 choir members, using its own signature modular staging system. To enhance the warm atmosphere inside the sanctuary, the company completely refinished all of the walls around the stage in scenic and architectural elements, including faux wood, rock, and acrylic glass treatments. A Paragon-designed media wall with six motorised 80-inch displays was also installed to create an attractive camera background for the church services, which are all videoed and live streamed.
However, the redesigned sanctuary does much more than present an inviting and friendly atmosphere to worshippers. When accented with the Chauvet Professional fixtures, it also gives the church the flexibility to transform the look of the worship area for contemporary and blended (or traditional) services.
“We’re able to create very different types of environments in the church through the use of the Chauvet fixtures with their rich colours,” said Paragon 360’s Clayton Avery, the Project Manager and Installation Leader at First Redeemer. “So we not only have differences in the way services are conducted, for example, with a praise band at one service but not the other, we also have a very different ambience with different lighting moods at the two services, which makes worshippers at both feel more welcome.”
A key component of Paragon 360’s lighting design are the 44 Chauvet Professional COLORdash Batten-Quad 6 linear wash RGBA LED fixtures, which are used to wash the sanctuary’s expansive set walls and acrylic panels. The inclusion of amber LEDs in these fixtures results in the production of very deeply saturated colours. By playing these colours off against the walls and panels, the church is able to evoke different looks in the worship area. For added coloration on the set walls, Paragon 360 installed 14 COLORdash Batten-Quad 12 linear fixtures.
Paragon 360 added warmth and versatility to the stylish towers that frame the area behind the choir loft by installing five COLORdash Par-Quad 7 RGBA LED par-style fixtures. The compact size of these fixtures makes them ideal for positioning in the tight spaces inside the towers. Also fitting in a tight area are the two COLORdash Accent Quad wash fixtures that were used for the sanctuary’s P360 drum enclosure.
In addition to the scenic and lighting elements, the Paragon 360 remodelling project included a new HD projection system with three 16×9 screens and laser 3D projectors. The motorised centre screen also reveals the baptistery when it’s opened.
The scope of this project notwithstanding, Paragon 360 completed it in only two weeks. “The church had to hold services in a temporary location while we did this, so we had a strong incentive,” said Clayton. “Our team deserves a lot of credit, as do the people at First Redeemer and the quality of the equipment we used.”
For their part, the leadership of First Redeemer is extremely satisfied not only with the overall appearance of their new sanctuary, but also with its flexibility. “The greatest benefit of this re-design is that when our contemporary congregation shows up, they come to a sanctuary that looks like it was designed especially for them,” said Senior Pastor Jeff Jackson. “Then, when our blended group shows up, it looks like they are in a worship space that was especially designed for them. The re-design that Paragon created is such a great enabler for us to be able to do ministry is various ways using the same space. We’re able to make good use of the resources God has entrusted to us by re-using the same stage for a contemporary service and for a blended service, reaching a very broad audience.”