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Chroma-Q News

Marion First UMC uses lighting to envelop all generations


Marion, Iowa’s Marion First United Methodist Church, a spiritual presence in the downtown community for well over a century, was facing numerous challenges that limited their ministry

“Our building was built in 1895 and was completely land-locked,” describes Simon Campbell, director of worship and technology. “There was no opportunity for further growth, and while a beautiful building with a traditional sanctuary, it limited our ability to reach future generations and presented obstacles that we couldn’t completely compensate for with ministry programs and outreach. We wanted to replace those obstacles with opportunity to reach those not yet exposed to the church.”

Marion First UMC acquired property on the northeast outskirts of the city and constructed a new, modern church facility. However, at the same time they wanted to remember the generations that made the church who they are. They called upon Custom Sound Designs (CSD) in New Haven, IN to design and install the audio, video and lighting systems in the new facility.

“We wanted to create a more immersive lighting scenario instead of using heavy backlights and moving fixtures that tend to hurt older eyes,” says Campbell. “One of the keys in making this a reality are our Chroma-Q® Inspire™ RGBW LED house lighting fixtures. Being color-mixing fixtures, we can change the color of the house lighting to match our environmental projection and the stage color wash. It helps change the congregation from being observers to participants. And with each fixture being individually controllable, we are able to ‘shrink’ the room by only lighting the part of the space we are using.”

Controlling an expansive lighting system may seem daunting, but the church’s selection of Vista lighting control software (recently acquired by Chroma-Q) with a Jands S1 programming wing creates a volunteer-friendly lighting system that’s easy to learn and even easier to run.

“We wanted a versatile system that would let us create themes easily,” says Campbell. “It needed to be sophisticated enough that we could create a wide variety of looks, but simple enough that it could be run by volunteers with a variety of skill levels without requiring them to become lighting system experts. Vista enables us to quickly pre-program a service for newer volunteers to simply execute the cue lists; but also enables advanced volunteers to take more ownership and control, running a combination of pre-programmed cues and changing the lighting dynamically depending on what’s happening in the service. The S1 wing with its programming and playback controls gives us the ability to improvise and be flexible. Just as the band changes gears in response to what's happening in the service, our technology needs to be able to respond to the congregation as well. Vista and Inspire enable us to do this.”

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