BURGESS, Va. For some churches, the prospect of adding something as significant as projection fails to garner any consideration year after year, to where it remains an unlikely prospect for the foreseeable future.
Then a new pastor comes to your church. He so happens to be a 29-year-old, and is seemingly very comfortable with technology, and those long held preconceptions end up being thrown to the wind.
Among the benefits that the new projectors provide is allowing for some congregants to “participate in worship in a way that (they were) unable to for a long time.”
"We are an older congregation; many members said we would never do it," said Fairfields United Methodist Church Lay Leader Judy Mooers, who has worked with the new ceiling mounted BenQ projection system since it was installed. "(That first time, the new pastor) plunked down (a tabletop) projector and since then, the congregation has accepted (the idea of projection) very well."
The move to a more permanent solution at Fairfields UMC was completed in July, as two BenQ MQ769 DLP lamp projectors were added to the worship space, along with two 100-inch diagonal fixed screens.
Once completed, four members of the church's staff were given a training session on the new system, after which Mooers said she compiled a handbook to help someone handle the system, "If I can't get there one Sunday."
Mooers admitted that despite the improvements achieved with the two projectors and screens, additional work to the system is slated for down the road.
"We have sound hooked into our old, needs-to-be-replaced sound system, but we were not ready to replace too much at once," she added.
Helping to install the projectors and screens, which took about a day and a half, was Bill Cronheim, owner of Entertainment Systems Corporation, based in Weems, Virginia. It was the first time the company has worked with the church, to which Mooers explained that ESC had "worked with a couple other local churches, so we got recommendations from a few of them," before choosing the company for the project.
When it came time to determine which projector model would work best in the church's worship space, Cronheim said, "They left it up to me to create the equipment list. I kept into account the throw distance and the ambient light, and picked the appropriate projector. I've been selling and using BenQ projectors the last 20 years, and find them very well made, feature rich and reasonably priced."
As noted by Mooers, "We went with what Bill thought was the best, as we were not very knowledgeable on the options," with the church trustees opting to go with lamp projectors over laser.
Once the work was finished, which required no cancellations or delays of any services, the projectors have made a difference for the church and its 70 active members.
"Everyone is enjoying (the new projectors), and I was told it was enhancing their services," noted Cronheim.
Among the many benefits for services that the projectors provide, noted Mooers, is that "we can use video, which is a change. Also, as a side benefit, while we use PowerPoint for the materials projected on the screen, we have a woman who is legally blind, who in the past hasn't been able to sing more than the first verse, and now I can print out (lyrics) for her (in a 40- to 48-point font), and she now has been able to participate in worship in a way that she was unable to for a long time."
Beyond that one member of the congregation, though, Mooers said that overall, the congregation has appreciated the new aspect to their services.
"They really like that they don't have to thumb through the hymnals, instead reading the screens," she said. By incorporating photographs and nice artwork into the backgrounds of the screens, she added that "they say it's a nice addition to the service."
Since the install was completed in July, Mooers noted that the projectors over that time have worked "very well," but acknowledged that church staff had recently begun to hear "a loud fan noise from each projector," dating back to just before Christmas. Mooers explained that the noise was audible to the point where "you sure know when the machines are off and when they are on our organist says that (the noise) is a roar."
Upon talking with Cronheim, the decision on how to rectify the situation was that both projectors be replaced, with the pair set to be taken down on Feb. 6, and the replacements to then be installed to where the BenQ projectors will be ready the following Sunday.
Beyond the fan noise, though, Mooers explained that the "system works really well, and it has been used in every service and it hasn't failed us."
While ESC will handle the replacement work, Mooers said that the company had thus far otherwise only had to come back one other time, to make slight adjustments to the positioning of the projectors.