Orchard Hill Church upgrades with ETC Ion® lighting control

Since they first began meeting in 1989, Orchard Hill in the north suburbs of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has been committed to bringing people back into the church through innovation and cultural relevancy. Ten years ago they built a 1200-seat sanctuary and employed an ETC-based lighting system -- Sensor® dimming racks with UPSAC architectural processors, as well as Source Four® fixtures with Dimmer Doubling™ -- all controlled by an Express™ 250 lighting console.

Later, when Production Manager Ed Sciulli added lighting designer to his roles at Orchard Hill, he and his lighting team evaluated where they wanted to take their ministry and concluded it was time to upgrade their console. "When I took over as the LD in 2004, we only had two intelligent fixtures," states Sciulli. "These easily fit into the 250 DMX channels the Express provided, but left little room for any expansion. With our desire to add more moving lights, getting a console with more capacity was an essential first step. Although the Express had served us well over the years, the desire to add more sophisticated production elements got us looking for a new control surface."

Like many contemporary churches, Orchard Hill makes use of both professional and volunteer lighting-board operators. Sciulli knew he needed a sophisticated and yet accessible console that would satisfy the pros coming through with national touring acts, as well as the novice high-school students lighting the Saturday evening services.

Additionally, the wise use of financial resources is a spiritual duty to the church. "We are extremely prudent with our resources, and in trying to be good stewards, we look for the best possible value at the most reasonable price," Sciulli explains.

Sciulli turned to Integrated Theater Systems of Pittsburgh. "Once Manager of Technical Services Jenn Christenson understood what our goals were, she recommended ETC's Ion lighting console. It has all the features and capacity that we need, with the room to branch out into several different mediums depending on where we want to go as a church. The Ion was far better than other manufacturers' consoles in meeting our needs. Once Jenn explained what Ion was capable of doing for the price, there was no other console to consider." Orchard Hill installed a 1000-channel Ion with an ELO Touchscreen, as well an ETC Radio Focus Remote (RFR), and ETC 20-fader Universal Fader Wing.

Of course, price and feature set are only two considerations in selecting equipment. Part of being good stewards is making sure your suppliers are also going to take care of you for the long haul. Says Sciulli, "If I ever get in over my head and need to call for help, I want someone that understands my system. The people I have talked to at ETC always provide support in a timely fashion and explain things to me in a way I understand. Since I don’t have a strong lighting education, there are times when I need to be walked through a process. ETC and Integrated Theater Systems have been always been accommodating in this capacity."

"The Ion is simply a great machine," explains Sciulli. “It has certainly been my experience that you get what you pay for. And often, with church budgets, you only get one shot to make a purchase. You really can't afford to make a mistake and buy the wrong equipment. With the Ion, I am in a position to get the most out of what I do have, and will not be limited in our expansion by a lesser controller. Lighting can make or break an experience; it can enhance worship by expressing creativity as a gift from God, or simply be a distraction because it's done cheap and cheesy. The right equipment for the culture of your community is vital."


Orchard Hill Church, Pittsburgh, PA

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"[The Ion] has all the features and capacity that we need, with the room to branch out into several different mediums depending on where we want to go as a church." - Ed Sciulli, Production Manager

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