PORT ST. LUCIE, FL – The sun broke through the clouds on Easter Sunday, setting a bright, uplifting mood outside for the opening of the new worship center at Christ Fellowship church. Stepping inside the building, one of eleven Christ Fellowship campuses, worshippers encountered a sleek and spacious room with a curved thrust stage, two-tiered auditorium seating, three IMAG LED video panels, a larger wall center stage and two smaller units to either side of it. Surrounding the larger panel and located at other positions around the stage was a collection of 161 CHAUVET Professional LED fixtures, supplied by Mankin Media Systems.
Although the 161 lighting fixtures may not have been obvious to most people entering the worship center on Easter Sunday, once services started they transformed the room, creating an immersive field of color and light that engaged everyone on a deep level. For Christ Fellowship’s team, Technical Director Neil Zimmerman, Production Director Danny Dagher and Lighting Designer Joe Rizzo, the dynamic lighting package is part of a shared commitment to keeping the church’s services rewarding and relevant to contemporary worshippers.
“Lighting plays an integral part of our worship services. We are always reevaluating how to make our services better and partnering with our audio and video teams to create a more engaging experience,” said Dagher. “Details like color selection and position of a lighting fixture can have a major impact on the feel of a room.”
Having a powerful lighting system capable of creating this kind of impact was especially important to Christ Fellowship at its new Port St. Lucie worship center, given the presence of the large video walls. “There are two video walls on either side of the stage and one large center 3×1 surface,” said Zimmerman. “With the room having so many LED panels, which are so much brighter than projection, we knew that we had to spec fixtures that were bright enough to punch through and make a statement next to the walls.”
The Christ Fellowship team created this kind of system with their CHAUVET Professional fixtures. They installed 76 ÉPIX Strip Tour and 11 Ovation B-565FC fixtures, as well as 48 Rogue R2 Wash, 14 Rogue R1 Wash and 12 Rogue R3 Wash fixtures. Flown on upstage and midstage truss, the R2 Wash units fill a variety of roles at the church, from key lighting and fill lighting to secondary color washing and backlighting of vocalists and speakers.
Flown upstage above the large video wall, the R3 Wash fixtures are used as the church’s primary color wash. The R1 Wash fixtures are used for effects light and chase sequences. Arranged on the upstage, they are visible in most IMAG images.
“The output of the R1 Wash is perfect for this application, since we need to be careful to not blow out the background, while maintaining balance between the background and foreground of our shots,” said Tim Corder, Senior Solutions Advisor at Mankin Media Systems, who worked closely with Christ Fellowship on the new system. “They can also create a convincing tungsten look, which is great on camera as an Edison bulbs creative look.
‘This lighting design has more total fixtures on stage than any other Christ Fellowship stage previously,” continued Corder. “This was done intentionally in order to advance the goal of having more creative ‘layers’ to use in designing the visual moments of each week’s service.”
“Every fixture in the rig can pan, tilt and zoom, which increases the flexibility of the church’s lighting system tenfold,” added BJ Hunt, Lighting Designer for Mankin Media Systems. “The result is lighting that more effectively supports the content on stage rather than drawing attention to itself.”
Linking the new design at the Port St. Lucie church with the lighting at other Christ Fellowship campuses are the 76 ÉPIX Strip Tour fixtures in the rig. The looks created with the LED linear lights create a common visual with the five other campuses that have ÉPIX Strip Tour fixtures.
“Our model is ‘One Church, Many Locations,’ so we try our best to create an experience that matches the same level of excellence across all of our venues,” said Joe Rizzo, the Lighting Designer. “The Chauvet ÉPIX Strip Tours have been a huge help at creating an engaging set that utilizes negative space that can be easily translated across multiple venues.”
Looking at the new Port St. Lucie facility as well as the other Christ Fellowship campuses, which together draw 30,000 worshippers every Sunday (plus 80,000 more online), it’s hard to imagine that this impressive house of worship started out in 1984 when five families gathered at one of their homes for prayer and bible study. People say the church grew by constantly seeking new ways to make its worship services more engaging. The Easter Sunday opening of the new worship center offers vivid proof that this commitment is as strong as ever.