Concordia Lutheran: A Church AV Installation Story

Every church AV installation project is different. Each has its challenges and beauty. This is the story of Concordia Lutheran Church in Conover, North Carolina and the installation work we did for them in 2023.

History and Overview of the Venue

Concordia Lutheran Church traces its roots to the historic Concordia College, a Lutheran College established in 1877 in Concord, North Carolina. From its earliest days, worship services in the college’s assembly hall allowed worshipers to gather and deepen their faith. 

Tragically, the college met an unfortunate fate in 1935, as a devastating fire ravaged the main administration building, leading to its permanent closure.

However, in 1958, under the visionary leadership of Pastor Richard F. Lineberger, the new sanctuary was constructed on the same site where the old Concordia College Administrative Office once stood. This sacred space became the heart of the church, embodying the congregation’s devotion to worship and community.

Designed by renowned architect A. G. Odell, the architectural splendor of the church boasts a unique blend of modern and Gothic influences. The building is a piece of art with a gorgeous stained-glass window overseeing the altar, massive wooden beams holding the ceiling, and a copper roof that attracts international attention. The room is large; the peak is 52 feet high, and the sanctuary 120 feet long. The long chamber helps draw your eye to those soaring heights and magnifies its grandeur.

A digital projection screen with the words "RYGID AV" hangs from the ceiling of a beautiful church sanctuary with blue and purple stained-glass windows behind it.

Identified Needs

Magnificent, historic buildings can be difficult to modernize. Stewards want to maintain the aesthetics of the space and protect delicate finishes while introducing technology that improves usefulness. 

In the case of the Concordia Lutheran Church, the leadership knew they wanted video elements in their space, and as the conversations went on, based on the size of the space called for projection. We discussed the ability for those elements to be discrete or disappear entirely.

The Elders and staff had other concerns. They were worried about reflections off the tile floor and how the shape and size of the room might make it difficult to see and hear.

The folks from Concordia Lutheran Church imagined different potential uses of the space and wanted to ensure this upgrade served current and future purposes:

  1. They wanted the ability to live stream and connect with people who couldn’t attend in person.
  2. They wanted to be able to do contemporary worship, which relies on different audio and visual tools.
  3. They foresaw using it for some of their K-8 schoolings.

Each of these uses helped us better understand their needs. 

The scale of the space offered unique challenges. Remember the 52-foot-tall ceilings we mentioned? Hanging a screen and projector from those heights requires heavy equipment, and their recently installed ceramic tile floor could break under that machinery’s weight. The length of the sanctuary is notable, too. A long room requires specific audio and video equipment.

Our task was to replace an outdated sound system with a state-of-the-art projector, screen, and PA to enhance the worship experience and honor our guiding principle of “every seat in the house matters.”

Our Process

Once we understand a client’s needs, the next step is identifying the best equipment to meet those needs.  

In this case, the needs narrowed down the possible equipment quickly. We wanted a projection screen but didn’t want anything hanging that drew your attention away from the design elements. It was okay for a screen to block the stained glass, but only while in use.

Only one piece of equipment made sense: a Screen Innovations Zero-G projection screen, hung by aircraft cable and floating above the space, which can retract into its case 40 feet in the air when not in use.

The Digital Projection projector was truss-mounted behind the docile curtain to keep it discrete.

We knew we needed to tuck the speaker system away, too. Given the length and size of the space, a line array was the obvious choice. Based on our acoustic calculations, an Adamson IS7 array was perfect. We planned to nestle it into the ceiling to avoid drawing attention away from the architectural beams. 

Once we identified the right audio-visual equipment, we developed our installation plan.

An AV installation technician stands on a raised lift while installing church sound system equipment high off the ground.
An articulating lift, a heavy-duty piece of equipment designed to reach high spaces, sits on a temporary plywood floor in a church sanctuary.

We used a big articulating lift resting on plywood not to break any floor tiles and still reach the ceiling to distribute the weight across a larger space.

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