Zarephath Christian Church

The beginnings of our work with Zarephath sprang from difficulty- the ravages of Hurricane Irene in August of 2011. 

Because the Zarephath campus is located below the flood plain, damages from flooding and from the storm were significant, with the first floor of many buildings on the campus being completely underwater.

But opportunity quickly arose from tragedy. As Zarephath Christian Church scrambled to find temporary accommodations while cleanup continued, a plan emerged to renovate an existing library building into the new Zarephath Life Center- a multi-use facility with offices, counseling space, gathering spaces for the church’s student ministry, a café, and an intimate and attractive chapel. Before the flood, the church had significantly outgrown the previous chapel building and was already meeting in a gymnasium on the campus for weekend services. With the new Zarephath Life Center, a possibility emerged to connect the larger gym space with the new, smaller café and chapel space via technology- to allow two completely different venues for one worship service, at the same time, linked together with sound and video.

Enter Somerset Media Group. Working with the church’s operations and worship pastors, we devised a plan to connect the two buildings, spaced 500 feet apart, using fiber-optic technology and high definition video. First, we equipped the new Zarephath Life Center with full sound, video, and stage lighting systems. For sound, we maximized the church’s existing investment by re-using and repurposing most of the equipment from their previous chapel sound system, adding new dbx system processing, delay and fill speakers, playback and record equipment, and wireless microphones. The new sound system features one-button power switching via a Furman power sequencing and conditioning system. We provided essential stage lighting using ETC SmartBar modular dimmers, Altman lighting instruments, and a Leviton lighting console. A custom-built finished millwork AV desk and console housing all visible components  was designed and built for this project. Because of the danger of flooding, all system components including the AV desk which are not permanently-installed are designed to be easily removed, and those that are permanently installed are intentionally located safely out of harm’s way.

Because of the importance of the video system for creating the proper environment in the Life Center as an additional worship service venue, we focused much of our attention there. (3) Panasonic projectors were used in this relatively small space to create a large, vibrant presence. A large Da-Lite motorized center screen is flanked by (2) Da-Lite motorized side screens at the front of the chapel space. During worship services, the center screen typically carries live high-definition video from the main service in the gym, while the side screens carry supporting content such as song lyrics and Powerpoint slides. A Panasonic high-definition robotic pan-tilt-zoom camera captures the video image from the gym, and this camera can be remotely controlled from either location. The camera system is designed for future expansion with additional cameras as the need for additional capability arises. MultiDyne fiber optic systems transmit the high-definition video content along with multiple audio streams and a production intercom system which feeds Telex intercom headsets at each location. The video system is tied together by an Analog Way SmartMatrix video scaler/matrix switcher, which allows any source, local or remote, to appear on any screen. In addition to the video feeds from the gym, local sources including an Apple computer for graphics display and a Denon universal Blu-Ray/DVD player may be routed through the video system. All in all, this system represents a significant leap forward for Zarephath in terms of both the capabilities and possibilities for effective ministry in this vibrant, growing church. The Life Center is used every day for a wide variety of ministry functions, and every weekend as one church gathers in two completely different environments in two locations for worship.

Our work and partnership with this great church continues as their ministry grows and as new needs arise, with new projects underway and new capabilities being added continually, with ministry always first, but innovation occurring in step with it to reach full and maximum potential.

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