Colorado church takes control with ETC Congo® jr lighting consoles

“We are very aware of how lighting can enhance services and programs,” says Media Operations Manager Russell Valentine of Cherry Hills Community Church (CHCC), in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. “So in our church, we have worked hard to design and implement lighting systems that bring excellence and professionalism to the services and programs that we produce. We want our lighting systems to be as versatile as possible. Ease of programming, interface with various intelligent lighting instruments, reliability and factory support were very important in our decision-making process.”

Cherry Hills became the first venue to own ETC’s Congo jr lighting control consoles last year, after the church completed a large renovation project and built a new addition. Cherry Hills’ two Congo jrs now deftly handle the changing roster of worship services in the newly expanded facilities.

Like so many modern worship venues, Cherry Hills had been growing both in size and schedule. Its main auditorium was built in 1994, but the church quickly outgrew itself. There was no gathering area large enough to serve its members. Space for weddings and funerals was limited. Scheduling had become difficult. So in 2006, the church undertook the task of adding on to their already architecturally stunning church. Now, CHCC includes a lobby, mini-concert area, meeting room, café, 20,000-square-foot traditional chapel, 38,000-square-foot atrium, 3,500-seat auditorium, and classroom space for a 1,200-student school.

With the new addition, CHCC was also able to spread its tech wings. The atrium and chapel were outfitted with the latest in sound and speaker technology, video projection screens, and lighting, including a Congo jr console with a Master Playback Wing in each space. In addition to the consoles, CHCC’s lighting system includes ETC Source Four® spotlights, PARs, and PARNels®, as well as ETC’s Source Four Revolution® moving lights, Sensor®+ dimming system with CEM+, and Unison® architectural control system.

The church’s 450-seat chapel is used mainly for weekly worship services, conferences, wedding ceremonies, funerals and formal school programs such as graduation, while the multi-purpose atrium is used for wedding receptions, conferences, overflow for Christmas and Easter celebrations, concerts, plays, adult Sunday school classes and other events for the church family. The Congo jr consoles control the lighting for all these events. “We can create lighting with these boards and fixtures for just about any use someone comes up with for these spaces,” says Valentine.

CHCC’s media personnel and trained volunteers run the Congo jr consoles. They found the jrs to be incredibly intuitive, and because many of the staff had experience working with other consoles, the syntax wasn’t foreign. “The Congo jrs control moving lights with ease, and the ability to set up presets and groups on faders makes it easy for the novice to operate the board when necessary,” says Valentine. “A volunteer who only needs to be able to turn on and off lights for a show can learn how to do this in a very short period of time using the Master Playback Wing. On the other hand, our more experienced media professionals can program a more complex and difficult show with ease after a short learning curve.”

In designing the look of the church, the architect faced the challenge of creating a heritage building that would have stood the test of 100 years but that could also function for another 100 years. Finding a lighting system to fit the church was just as challenging: the system needed to blend into the aesthetics of this new classic, while being ‘future-proofed’ to handle upcoming lighting innovations. “Placing a complex lighting system in a traditional chapel was a challenge,” says Valentine. “We were, however, able to design and install the systems in such a way as to meet our lighting objectives while keeping the look and integrity of a more traditional worship space.”

The Source Four lighting fixtures blend into the interior design: In the atrium, the casings are white and are attached to white steel supports on the ceiling. In the chapel, the Source Fours are black, also matching the color scheme as unobtrusively as possible.

In the church’s atrium and chapel, Source Four fixtures light both stages and are also used for Sunday services, weddings and funerals. Source Four PARNels are used in the atrium for everyday wash lighting and for illumination during videotaping. The Source Four PAR fixtures provide accent wall lighting and are used for special event lighting.

Because the ceiling in the atrium and chapel is high, front lighting locations are hard to reach to refocus or change bulbs. As a solution, ETC’s Source Four Revolution automated fixtures are used in these areas, so church technicians don’t need to haul out a heavy lift before aiming lights where they’re needed. A few keystrokes on the Congo jr console is all it takes to refocus the Revolutions, which are also used for color and accent lighting for church events.

The ETC Sensor+ dimmer racks are used in the chapel for all the theatrical and house lighting, as well as dimmable building lighting. The ETC Unison control system is used to handle interior and exterior architectural lighting. With several entrances into the church, it was important to have multiple wallstations on the same network to control house lighting. The Unison system makes this possible, with about a dozen wallstations capable of turning on programmed lighting zones, situated throughout the building. The Unison system is a convenient option for the many activities CHCC offers: During the day, the system can function independently in each space, and for an event in the evening, lighting in all areas can be controlled from one location. Unison makes it easy for people without technical backgrounds to turn lights on and off, while giving the seasoned technical staff more creative options for setting up and operating sophisticated lighting events.

One reason CHCC chose to purchase ETC brand equipment was the company’s respected reputation for technical and customer service. In November, the church experienced this support firsthand. CHCC techs encountered a lighting problem just a couple hours before a major event in the atrium. They called ETC’s 24-hour tech service phone-support line, and shortly thereafter the equipment was back up and running, with time to spare before the event. With that reassurance and already high-quality equipment, CHCC is guaranteed to have the lighting they need for anything that comes their way.

Installation

Cherry Hills Church, Highlands Ranch, CO

Product List

Quotable

“The Congo jrs control moving lights with ease, and the ability to set up presets and groups on faders makes it easy for the novice to operate the board when necessary." – Russell Valentine, media operations manager


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