In 2019, Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola, Florida, made the decision to upgrade both their stage and house lighting systems in their main sanctuary, a huge undertaking that meant replacing over 600 lighting fixtures. “We decided to replace every tungsten light that illuminated in the room with an LED fixture,” said Bobby Taylor, Tech Director and Director of Communications at Olive Baptist Church, “and for the stage lighting project chose a full complement of Elation LED fixtures.”
Olive Baptist Church was founded over 125 years ago and has grown into one of the largest Baptist churches in America. Under the leadership of Dr. Ted Traylor, Olive Baptist is an active and growing ministry with a large worship space designed to hold about 4,000 people. In any given week, the sanctuary may host anything from weekly services, weddings, or funerals to full concerts and community events.
Taylor says the existing lighting system was getting old and he knew they were going to have to replace it, also the dimmer racks, at some point. “As parts would fail, the room began to get darker in sections,” he said. “We did some studies internally of the money it was taking to maintain the tungsten light fixtures with manpower and lamps. We also looked at the wattage loads we were using and determined it was best to upgrade the entire system to LED technology. The pay back made financial sense to us to make this change.”
Taylor, who has a long-standing relationship with Elation manufacturer rep firm Freed Sales and company head Dustin Pesnell, travelled to Elation’s South Florida showroom in Opa-Locka to explore the possibilities and, working together with Pesnell, came away with an Elation and ADJ gear spec. Begun in early August, the lighting upgrade was finished in time for a Christmas program in early December.
Because of the electrical complexities of the space, the project was looked on as two construction projects within one – a general house lighting project and a stage lighting project. The existing house lighting system of 522 500W fixtures was replaced with color temperature adjustable white lights and RGBL fixtures, while the old stage lighting system of roughly 100 575W ellipsoidals and 1000W Par Cans was replaced with a new Elation LED system of moving heads, Pars, battens and ellipsoidals. Elation dealer Everlast Productions supplied the lighting to Olive Baptist for the retrofit.
The church was fortunate to have the ability to do the project in house, and acting as their own in-house design build contractor chose the fixtures, tested them and proved the design concepts. They then subcontracted out the installation work to Current Solutions (Chris Mock), who handled the electrical for the house lighting, and All Pro Integrated Systems, who handled the sACN infrastructure, components, cabling and design. Because of the experience the church has on staff, the stage lighting was designed in house.
As the needs for the space are great, the stage lighting system is quite extensive. Taylor decided to go with an assortment of LED moving heads, choosing a pair of award-winning Artiste series fixtures – the ArtistePicasso™ and Artiste DaVinci™ – along with Dartz 360™ and Platinum 1200 Wash™ units. “The choices that we made were based not only on the performance of the fixture but the fact that they are easy to maintain,” he comments. “We chose the Picasso to have a super bright spot on stage with nice tight edges or a large assortment of interchangeable gobos. The framing shutters are absolutely incredible.” About the Artiste DaVincis, which are utilized as backlighting at stage level, he said, “The brightness when spreading the beam through gobos is very impressive. Not only are they quick and quiet, the colors match well with our other Elation fixtures.”
Placed at various locations on stage, the Dartz 360 were chosen as a cost effective fixture primarily for beam effects. Taylor states, “This fixture is small, inconspicuous and quiet. The fact that it can pan and tilt continuously 360 degrees gives us lots of flexibility to enhance our worship sets. With the room hazed nicely, the beam effect from this light is outstanding. It is small enough that we are able to move them about the space with very little effort and its sACN capability gives us endless opportunities for placement.”
A combination of tungsten fixtures and Elation WW Profile HP™ warm-white ellipsoidal spots, all with 10-degree lenses, serve as key and backlighting on the stage. Elation SixPar Z19™ six-color Par wash lights are used for stage back wash and choir down fill. “The ultraviolet feature of this fixture plays a big role in kids performances,” Taylor says. Elation DW Chorus™ white light LED battens are used to light a massive stained-glass window that retracts to expose a performance scrim area or an additional projection screen. An assortment of other fixtures are used for accent lighting such as Elation SixPar 100™ LED Pars and ADJ Ultra Hex Bar 12 linear LED fixtures. Taylor remarks that an advantage of the space is an extensive catwalk system that is accessible by elevator, as well as a unique slated ceiling that allows for access to the area above. He adds that during the renovation, they also did a lot of work enhancing some of the lighting features, replacing things like chair railing on the back walls with very thin chair railing to minimize shadows.
The result is a makeover that has enhanced church activities and lifted the space to a completely new level. Satisfied with the new lighting systems, Taylor ends by expressing the importance of working with a reliable partner. “It is very important for us to use a product that has a company with great service backing it as we know that lights of this type eventually experience issues when used a lot over time. Our experience with Elation has been superb over the years. It is a great product and the company stands behind their products well.”