Featured Article in Technologies for Worship Magazine, Dec. 2017
BY JAKE HOLMGREN
Eastpoint is a non-denominational church planted by Restoration House Ministries based out of New Hampshire. There are quite a few churches in the northern New England area they have helped out. The church was officially planted in April 2004, and we’ve moved about five times since then.
When we were still in our old building, we were running four services at a time due to lack of seats. We were looking at a variety of different options, including purchasing a new property, but nothing was working out. A few of our staff went on a church trip around the country just to see possibilities of what we could do.
We modeled our church building after 242 Community Church out of Brighton, MI, which was running their church out of a community center in their area. Their pastor said something that we really loved, which was basically now that he had built a community center, he would never build a regular church building again. That resonated with us. We agreed that spending $7,000,000+ on a new building that would only be used on Sundays and maybe a couple of other days throughout the week didn’t make sense, when we could build a center that would service our entire community. We found an old discount furniture store that was no longer in use, and a second home store right next to it, which was part of a shopping center. We gutted both stores right down to the struts, which gave us a completely blank space to play with – then we were off and running with our idea to repurpose this space to play a vital role in bringing together our community in a new space designed specifically for them. Having room for our church to worship became just an incidental part of the plan – the focus was really on serving the community.
When we started designing the community center, we were working with a blank floor space of 92,000 square feet. We put together focus groups made up not only of church members, but also members in the larger outside community. We invited community members to participateby contributing ideas via email and phone calls, on top of the previously mentioned focus groups. During our discussions, we were able to narrow down our focus to what would be specifically most beneficial to our community – this included a 1600 seat auditorium, a smaller secondary auditorium of 150 seats, large meeting rooms that would be used for AA meetings and the like, a college-sized basketball court (with room for riser seating, which is part of phase two), a three story playscape, an indoor turf soccer field that is 135 x 71 feet, and a 100 foot café with a local sandwich shop running daily, including Sunday mornings, in the main foyer area. The soccer field doubles as our church foyer on Sunday morning, with the doors opening into it. During Sunday worship, the entire building is reserved for Eastpoint, with the auditorium doubling as the main sanctuary, the meeting rooms being used for Sunday school and the smaller auditorium being used for youth events and, eventually, overflow.
Tim Messina at Events United helped with design, and recommended and specified all the new gear we would be implementing throughout the facility. Outside the main and secondary auditoriums, we wanted to have TV’s throughout the building for digital signage, and also hooked up through Apple TV, for businesses and other community groups to use for their presentations. We have screens (and adding more) in the café and the main foyer as well. We used LED fixtures throughout the facility, including the basketball court and soccer field, to provide great lighting in a cost-effective and environmentally friendly manner.
In the Main
In the main auditorium, the two main things we focused on was infrastructure and audio. We wanted to have the best infrastructure in place so we would have the ability to grow as needed. We have SDI and ethernet runs everywhere for future patching! We also wanted a top-notch audio system to support concerts. Our audio system was provided by d&b audiotechnik. Since we have about 800 seats direct on the floor and an additional 800 seats as stadium-style seating in a very wide room, we configured the line array system with a stereo left and right main fill, out fills on either side, and a delay fill to get the sound right. We also have front fills right on the front of the stage. It took about a day to acoustically balance the room, running from a design specified by d&b’s ArrayCalc software, which had placement for the system down to inches. For front of house, we run everything through an AVID S6L console, running a full stage box of64 channels. We use a mix of Shure, Audio-Technica, DPA and Audix microphones for our worship team, speakers and lead pastor, as well as any guests that we have speaking.
We aren’t currently doing any streaming, but plan to in the future. We do film all our services, using five cameras; two at front of house on tripods, two POV cameras from Marshall Electronics (usually at drums and keyboard, although this sometimes changes), and one roaming on stage. We run IMAG on two DA-LITE screens at either side of the stage, with two 80 inch TVs also running at the back of the stage with lyrics, sermon slides, etc., for people in the front middle of the room who aren’t able to see the side screens. We run our camera feeds through two 13,000 lumens laser projectors from Digital Projection, with two 80 inch Sony TVs hanging from the ceiling at the front of the stage as confidence screens for the pastor and worship team.
In the new facility, we wanted to make lighting more of a priority than it had been at the old building. Our vision was to get as many fixtures as we could afford that would look good and serve our needs for Sunday worship, and also be concert-ready for any tours or events we sponsored outside of regular worship. We wanted something that would have all the flash and bang people would expect at a concert, but not be overwhelming for Sunday worship. We are running all LED, with 16 Chauvet Ovation E160’s and 4 Chauvet Ovation E910’s for front wash, 12 Chauvet MK1 and two MK2 moving spots, 24 Martin MH2 moving washes on pipes and a lighting grid over and around the stage, and 24 Martin Rush Pars for fill, top and back light. The way the system was designed, we have the capability to place a light at any position above the stage viaour hanging grid, and we make any changes necessary with our scissor lift. Our lighting console is the MAdot2, currently able to run eight DMX universes. We’ve zoned out our lighting system, so for example, the Chauvet MK2 spots are in zone seven and eight, the Chauvet Ovation’s are in zone one, etc. Designing our lighting with growth in mind allows us to patch as needed around the stage, add new fixtures as needed, and also leave room for any extra fixtures coming in via outside events, without having to worry about running out of space.
We officially opened the auditorium on May 14, 2017, which was our first Sundayin the center. A lot of people didn’t know what to expect, so having them come in the doors that first day was exciting and overwhelming. Being able to showcase the facility and run two worship services that day with all the fantastic new gear was really something they’d never seen before. The entire community center was officially finished and open for the first week of school in September. We ran a huge open house on a Saturday, and had roughly 2800 people walk through the doors to check out the new center. The response from our community has also been overwhelmingly good. We were able to provide our community with a safe space to meet, have fun, and organize events and activities.
When we cast the vision for this two years ago to the church at large, we explained that we wanted to bring back the idea that the church was the center of the community. We have open WiFi, our café, all different organized sports and events,and many who come through the doors don’t even realize they are in a building designed by a church. When we give tours of the building, our volunteers take people through the building and end the tour at the auditorium to let people know the church owns the building. However, the whole purpose of the center is outreach; outreach to our community, outreach to the unchurched, designed to make manifest the prime tenants of the New Testament – and to show our love to our neighbors.
Jake Holmgren has been on staff as the Technical Director at Eastpoint Christian Church for 5 years
Donald Van Slyke - Project and Operations Manager for Events United who led the designing and installing audio, video, lighting, and acoustics at Eastpoint Church, had this to say, "An installation of this magnitude typically would take us 6 weeks. The Events United team did it in a compressed 3 week timeline. How did we do it and not compromise the integrity of our work?" Van Slyke went on to say, "The training, hard work, and coordinated effort from the WHOLE Events United team, and a lot of hustling."