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Awash

It’s been twenty years or so since video projection took over many of our worship spaces. Because we were so enamored by the new technology—guaranteed to take our worship to the next level, whatever that was—it quietly snagged the top spot in the visual hierarchy of our spaces.

When we first installed projection in the church I attend, a mammoth screen would descend from on high after the prelude, covering the cross that would reappear only after we turned our backs to leave the sanctuary. To compensate, for a time we even projected a picture of the cross on the screen situated maybe eight inches in front of the real thing.

Since those early days, most of us have adjusted and have found that creating worship visuals digitally—or buying them from stock-image houses for a few bucks—was a whole lot easier than getting a group of church people together to agree on and to construct an elaborate visual made out of felt or wood or some other material.

But unless our churches were built in the last decade, many congregations with screens in the worship space still have a problem: this
retrofitted bright rectangle gets too much attention.

Finding Balance

One option is to turn it off when it’s not being used. But then it will get even more attention when it’s lit. Another option is to feather the edges of the screen a bit and have the image break out of the rectangular shape with color. The latter is what we’re experimenting with at our church.

We purchased four SlimPAR H6 low-profile RGBAW+UV LED washlights with D-Fi USB compatibility for wireless master/slave or DMX control—or, for us non-tech folks, four fairly compact fixtures holding six super-bright LED bulbs that can be adjusted to “wash” a wall with an almost unlimited number of colors.

Rather than hanging them from above, we put them on the floor shining up. The four fixtures are daisy-chained using DMX cables, so a single control board manages the color choice and the on/off switch.

So far, the approach we’ve taken is to choose a color wash that supports the primary image projected and to leave that color shining for the entire service.

Yes, a full LED wall would give us unlimited choices, but for many of our churches, that will need to wait for a new building or a major renovation. In the meantime, we’ll do what we can with what we have. And that’s okay.