Henning Memorial United Methodist Church in Sulphur, Louisiana has a rich tradition of serving others. Tracing its roots back to 1865, the church was the fourth building to be constructed in this southwest Louisiana town. Like all institutions that stand the test of time, Henning has always been ready to adapt to change, while staying true to its enduring beliefs and values. This commitment to remaining relevant is very evident in The Branch, the church's auxiliary worship area, where contemporary services sparkle every Sunday morning under a dynamic lighting design featuring 18 fixtures from CHAUVET Professional.
Created by Porche Advanced Systems of Lake Charles, Louisiana, the lighting design provides an ideal backdrop to The Branch's upbeat music-filled services, serving up an eye-pleasing blend of movement and rich warm colors from the ideal placement of of four Q-Spot 460-LED moving yokes and 14 COLORado 1-Quad Tour LEDs wash lights. Porche’ positioned these fixtures downstage and side stage in addition to hanging them overhead to provide backlighting.
As happy as the church's leaders are now with the impact, engagement and energy that The Branch's lighting rig brings to their contemporary services, they had a different gear list in mind when Porche’ Advanced Systems came on board. "We were solicited by the architect to submit a bid for this project," recalls Jason Ryder of Porche. "When we reviewed the plans, we came in with a new design with a different gear list that maximized the lighting impact for the church's limited budget."
The Porche’ team gave the church more mileage for its lighting investment by reducing the number of moving head fixtures in the rig by 33 percent. "Their original plan called for six moving heads, but we showed them how we could give them more movement and color for less money,” says Ryder.
"Our goal was to maximize the budget and provide as many fixtures as we could. The way to do this was to replace moving heads with the static fixtures," he continues. "We often have churches requesting a lot of "movers” when their budgets really don't make this a practical option. We find that for smaller budgets, we can achieve an impressive, dynamic lighting system by increasing the number of static LED washes. This gives us the colors and the coverage we are looking for on stage, without the cost associated with having a lot of movers."
"We did rely on the COLORado's color mixing and washing to give us a more complete wash of the stage with color than we could get with just movers as originally spec’d," said Ryder. "We are using a PC based DMX controller along with a wall controller to achieve dynamic looks when the full tech crew isn’t available."
The quick set up features of the fixtures also played a key role in the Porche’ team's design work for Henning Memorial. The Branch is housed in a renovated gym across the street from the main church. During the week Henning Memorial still uses the facility as a gym for its youth programs.
"We created this design knowing that every week it would have to be taken down and put back up again for services," said Ryder. "So user-friendliness and budgetary concerns were both factors in this design. The church leaders and architect were very open- minded, so they were receptive to our recommendations that they modify their original plans. In the end this paid off, because it resulted in a design that was not only more cost effective, but better suited for the church."
For a time during the introduction of The Branch, Henning Memorial used the slogan "Rethink Church," as an invitation to young people to take a new look at worship services. The leaders of this venerable Louisiana church had the wisdom to put a similar open-minded philosophy into practice when it came to planning their new worship facility. They "rethought" their lighting strategy, dropping some moving fixtures for static LED units. In the process, they ended up with a design that will serve their growing congregation even better.